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ULEE'S GOLD

USA (MIFF 1997, International)

Director: Victor Nuñez

Victor Nunez has fashioned arguably the best work of his distinguished career. Set in a Florida backwater, Ulee's Gold mines the rich dra­matic terrain of Tennessee Williams and Carson McCullers. Its virtues include character portray­al, respect for its audience's intelligence, and a plausible plot that augments rather than over­whelms its delicate cadences: everything that full-throttle Hollywood fare bypasses.

Ulee, a Vietnam vet turned beekeeper, endures the disintegration of his family. Son Jimmy lands in jail, daughter-in-law Helen is kid­napped by Jimmy's partners in crime, who think Jimmy has hidden the proceeds from a robbery from them. Ulee's refuge from all this mayhem is the production of high-grade honey, while look­ing after his two granddaughters. Things take a nasty turn when Ulee is asked to go to Orlando to collect the wayward Helen, is confronted by Jimmy's cohorts who then demand a $100,000 ransom for Helen.

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