Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sweet Land (2005) - 3 Stars

I enjoyed this film because it reminded me of what my grandmother must have felt when she first came here from Germany in 1916 not speaking a word of English. Though slow paced, it's the touching story of a forbidden love and cultural survival. Shorty after WWI, Inge travels to America, with her Victrola in tow, to start a new life on the plains of Minnesota. She's been sent for to marry Olaf but the community church and it's people will not accept them. With her lack of communication and paperwork, and non approval from the small town, they are unable to marry. Instead, she plays house at the farm while Olaf sleeps in the barn. The town is in an uproar of their sinful ways of living in their big white house until they prove their sincerity at harvest time.

Inge Ottenberg (Elizabeth Reaser), travels from Germany to the United States in hope of finding happiness with a prearranged  new husband Olaf (Tim Guinee), an American farmer with Norwegian roots. Instead, she arrives in a community full of people judging her background roots. Frandsen (Alan Cumming), and his wife Brownie (Alex Kingston), live in a farm near by with their many children. They offer Inge a place to live as she awaits paperwork to become Olaf's wife. But the over crammed conditions cause he to flee back to the farm of Olaf and even under the town's disapproval, she sets of house while rumors spread. Olaf, a shy man, sleeps in the barn to keep the rumors at bay. But Rev. Sorrensen (John Heard),rallies the town against them.

Inge and Olaf spend every waking hour bringing their harvest to yield, completely alone but proving themselves to the community. When Frandsen's farm is behind in their mortgage, Olaf steps up to be high bidder at the auction as he couldn't bare the thought of separating Frandsen's large family. When Rev. Sorrensen and the rest of the community see they have nothing to fear from Inge and Olaf, they pitch in to bring unity back to the town.

Awards include:

2006 - Independent Spirit Awards - Best First Feature
2006 - Women Film Critics Circle - Best Female Images in a Movie
2006 - Women Film Critics Circle - Karen Morley Award

Forward Entertainment
Director: Ali Selim
Writer: Ali Selim
Producers: Ali Selim, Jim Bigham, Alan Cumming
I viewed 3/12

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