Director: Ray McKinnon

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Billy Bob Thornton & Lisa Blount turn in spectacular performances in this hillbilly tale set against Appalachian vistas & culture. Joe returns home after twenty years in prison & his bitter wife is still living in their woodland house. She lives in constant pain, physical from having had her neck broken & emotionally from her son having been killed in a car crash twenty years earlier, having been with Joe during a high speed chase when he was attempting to get away from the police.

Joe sleeps on the porch & slowly builds up hope inside himself that Chrystal will forgive him. He tries to keep to the straight & narrow, cleaning up the old stead, getting a job, but still sleeping on the porch with the coolest dog I've ever seen in any movie. Chrystal, self-destructive in her depression, obviously loves Joe, & continues to wait for him as though he is still far, far away; but she cannot reach out to him from her anguish & depression.

Joe's criminal chums from the old days still sell drugs & still want him to be part of their crew & when he refuses, they frame him. With the Drug Enforcement Agency after him, he vanishes into the woods where he lives like a ghost. His nemisis Snake, a personfication of scummy white trash at its most horrific, is played by Ray McKinnon, who wrote & directed this beautifully tragic film, & who is the real-life husband of Lisa Blount.

At the edges of the story are a blind black music professor (Harry Lennix) & his student aide (Johnny Galecki) researching American folk music. Bluegrass punctuates the film very beautifully, a la O Brother, Where Art Thou? Everyone is just so good in this film, with Billy Bob giving his best since Sling Blade.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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