Monday, June 28, 2010

No Bodies or Bombs

I continue to enjoy the offerings at my public library, and expect my face is becoming familiar to the several book mistresses on weekly duty. One thing I have noticed is that male employees are rare, and that in this library at least, there is no such thing as a 'silence is golden’ philosophy, that loud voices are the norm.

But that’s another story, so using an idiom from the movies let’s cut to the chase. I checked out of the library recently a movie I missed at the time of its release in 1999. It was a CBS Sunday night movie in that year, and starred Sidney Poitier. Written by Sterling Anderson, the movie is, The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn. It was directed by Gregg Champion, and also starred Mary Louise Parker and Dianne Wiest.

An ageless carpenter (Poitier) untouched by the corruption of modern 20th century life, becomes the target of greedy land developers. Noah is a master carpenter who, despite his 91 years has stayed young through a lifetime of meaningful work. He is a quiet, respected man in rural Georgia who spends his days building things, helping others, farming his land, making apple brandy and generally being a quiet blessing to everyone. Enter the dragon.

A consortium of investors looking to build a strip mall across Noah’s thirty-five acres bulldozes its way into the picture, and none of them much concerned about the old fool who lives on the land. And with this set up the real story begins. Let me be quick to add, the story is stretched thin through a good portion of its 87 minutes.

But it is a story with all those things we are suckers for: simplicity, honesty, doing a good job, helping others and good winning out at the end of a touching drama. There’s never a moment’s doubt that the honorable man will prevail in the end. The only question for us viewers is HOW he gets the better of the bad guys. But as I said, the writer offers up some pretty thin bait, and we are left with gaping hopes, in spite of the happy ending.

The three main actors, Poitier, Parker and Wiest are the glue that holds the story up. Poitier is impressive once again in a role Morgan Freeman would have enjoyed doing. I have always found Mary Louise Parker to be a very interesting actor. In this one she is a psychiatrist recruited to prove Noah incompetent, but sees the mistake early on and changes sides. Dianne Wiest as a longtime friend of Noah is fine in her quiet but symbolic character reflecting town opinion. I like this actor, too, but prefer her younger, kookier characterizations in earlier films.

No grandstand flag waving about this story, or great filmmaking, but it would be unfair to say the movie lacks strength or appeal. I have no doubt the picture would move a great portion of its audience. Despite some deficiencies, The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn will touch you in some way, and if you like heartwarming, then this is your ticket.

The Simple Life of Noah Dearborn | Dianne Wiest | Sidney Poitier | Gregg Champion | Mary-Louise Parker | Movie Trailers

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About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America