Bastard Out of Carolina
Bastard Out of Carolina
Directed: Anjelica Huston
This shocking drama (which Ted Turner paid for and then refused to show on his cable outfits), based on the novel by Dorothy Allison, concerns extensive abuse endured by a girl (Jena Malone) at the hands of her stepfather (Ron Eldard), while her mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) looks the other way. Anjelica Huston made her directorial debut with this film and demonstrates that talent also runs in the family when behind the camera. Difficult to watch but mitigated by Huston's intelligent approach and sense of balance--as well as outstanding performances--this is a significant film best left to the most mature audiences.
Movie Reviewsby: The Gryphon from IMDb
I just finished watching this movie again for the third time in the last two days. Each time I watch it I discover something I missed in the previous viewing. There are no wasted lines or scenes. It is a powerful 1996 movie with excellent performances, dealing with the touchy subject of child abuse.
Anjelica Huston is the director and this is her first attempt at directing a feature length movie. The results are stunning. It is altogether a flawless movie, with an excellent script based on the Dorothy Allison novel, and stars Jena Malone as the young protagonist. Jennifer Jason Leigh is in the tough role of the mother torn between the choices she faces in loving both her daughter and the abusive stepfather. Many times throughout the movie I sat on the edge of my seat stunned by the action happening onscreen. It is not a movie with pat answers and predictable solutions, but manages to show the complexities involved in each situation. There are no cardboard characters either, as in real life not everyone is totally good or evil, though their actions may dip into either category from time to time.
The most compelling performance, in a film loaded with excellent acting, comes from young Malone, who commands a role that many adult actresses would no doubt have trouble handling. Her face tells a thousand stories with each shot giving a multi-leveled meaning to the deeper motivations that lie within her character.
After the credits Glenne Headly provides further information about the subject and a child abuse hotline number, which is a great addition to a film of this sort. It is not "entertainment" per se, but more along the lines of an informational public service. The symptoms of child abuse are highlighted throughout the movie and the effect of everyone's participation documented as fair warning to the viewer.
I can't praise this movie enough. A film like this raises my awareness and compassion level and makes me want to reach out to help in any way I can. It exceeds expectations in just about every way imaginable.