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GOD'S COUNTRY

USA, 1985 (MIFF 1987)

Director: Louis Malle

God's Country starts as it doesn't mean to go on. We see a typical American small-town community going about its cheerful business, mowing the grass, raising children and singing hymns. Has, one asks oneself, Louis Malle taken leave of his critical senses? But of course he hasn't. As the film develops, the early part shot in 1979, the rest shot in 1985, the picture darkens. Six years down the road we see a riven community. Glencoe. Minnesota, is now going through troubled times, its former prosperity threatened, its inhabitants by no means the conventional happy families we thought. Sadness and fear have overtaken the American Dream, even if the little old lady still tends her gardens as if nothing truly disturbing could ever happen. This is a quiet, sagacious document that serves as a slice of cultural and social history as well as a fascinating dramatic portrait. Malle's respect for these people is everywhere apparent, but he never lets go of the defects he finds both in them and in the fake certainties of their patriotic but deeply flawed society.

Derek Malcolm, London Film Festival Programme

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