Milkwaukee, Minnesota

Director: Allan Mindel

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Milkwaukee, MinnesotaAlbert (Troy Garity) seems to be mentally retarded though probably he has some kind of high-functioning autism, perhaps Aspergers. Milwaukee, Minnesota (2003) doesn't bother with a diagnosis; he is whatever he is.

He possesses an almost magical ability at ice fishing, because he can hear the fishes talk. He's won a lot of money in ice fishing contests, prizes up to or more than $25,000, none of it in a bank. He could win even more if he could only travel, but his abusively controlling mom Edna (Debra Monk) said he can't.

He works for the rather loving Sean McNally (Bruce Dern) in the copy center. McNally is rather horrified by Albert's mistreatment at home, but Edna has something over McNally so he dares not try to help Albert too much.

Albert encounters a girl drifter, Tuey (Alison Folland), & her brother Stanley (Hank Harris). They are travelling through town when they learn of the big prize winning fisherman. Tuey begins pondering a seduction/kidnapping in order to get him to win more money that she & her brother can get their hands on.

Milkwaukee, MinnesotaIt's worrisome how easy it could be to take advantage of Albert, but his mom is so psychologically assaultive that it might be a grand adventure to be taken on a fishing tour by a beautiful girl.

When his mom gets killed in a hit & run in the street, Albert's independent for the first time in his life, though his mom never taught him how to be anything but reliant on her.

The potentially criminal brother & sister team become increasingly complex characters caught between their desire to take advantage of the slow witted fellow, & the responsibilities attendant to friendship.

Stanley has a lump on his testicals & could be dying of cancer. He hates that his sister wants to take advante of & rob a retarded man, but he needs more medical attention than is available to someone who can't pay.

A greater threat arises when a seedy dangerous travelling salesman (Randy Quaid) breaks into Albert's house looking for enough information to pass himself off as the long lost father.

Milkwaukee, MinnesotaThe hit & run wasn't an accident, so a murder mystery arises, treated as a black comedy very like films of the Cohen brothers.

It's tempting to reveal some of the witty twists of plot & things these characters experience, but enough to say Albert assisted by his personal mastery of photocopiers turns out to be smarter than anyone credits.

[SPOILER ALERT] But I do have to say at risk of a spoiler that the hopeful ending implying Albert might well become a community leader of some consquence was very unexpected. It was also so credible & so beautiful, that I thought my heart would bust. [END SPOILER ALERT]

If assessed as an indie art film with delusions of consequence, Milwaukee, Minnesota falls a mite short of the Cohens who seem to have provided the director with major inspiration. If assessed as a lighthearted eccentric dramady with no pretentions at all, it's really a splendid "small" picture. There are additional character actors I've failed to mention, so the casting is just a delight, real actors with a script worthy of their talents.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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