Back­wa­ter blues

One comes to hus­tle, but the rest may not bus­tle

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - LEIGH PAATSCH

Di­rec­tor: John Doyle ( fea­ture de­but) Stars: Colin Firth, Pa­tri­cia Clark­son, Ellen Burstyn, Am­ber Tam­blyn ( all pic­tured), Or­lando Bloom

BIG To­bacco up and left the small town of Durham, North Carolina, some years ago, leav­ing a se­verely de­pressed econ­omy and many empty stor­age sheds in its wake.

A stranger ar­rives and rents him­self a huge ware­house. Pays in cash. Has a cou­ple of Mex­i­cans in tow. Tells them to pre­tend they don’t speak English and to leave all the talk­ing to him.

So be­gins Main Street, a gen­tle, drift­ing med­i­ta­tion upon times that are chang­ing and peo­ple who would rather not change at all.

The film is based on the last script writ­ten by the cel­e­brated Amer­i­can screen­writer Hor­ton Foote ( To Kill a Mock­ing­bird, Ten­der Mer­cies ), who downed tools on this low-key drama shortly be­fore his death in 2008 at age 92.

Though Main Street will never be re­mem­bered along­side Foote’s best-known works, there is a weary, worldly wis­dom threaded through the film that is well worth pick­ing up on.

Colin Firth plays the mys­tery man of the piece, a sharp’n’shifty type who thinks he has an of­fer that the lo­cal cham­ber of com­merce surely can­not refuse.

So what if he wants to fill Durham’s va­cant space with nu­clear waste?

As the film nudges for­ward, first-time film­maker John Doyle gives over plenty of screen time to cap­tur­ing the rip­ple ef­fect of the town’s eth­i­cal co­nun­drum.

Ellen Burstyn ( play­ing an el­derly life­long res­i­dent of Durham) and Pa­tri­cia Clark­son ( as her niece) are to the fore as con­flict­ing feel­ings of re­sis­tance and ac­cep­tance are worked through.

While Main Street does have its mer­its, the pro­duc­tion, which iron­i­cally ex­pe­ri­enced its own share of fi­nan­cial hard­ships be­fore and af­ter shoot­ing, feels ever so slightly un­fin­ished.

Clunky edit­ing and a few char­ac­ters sur­plus to re­quire­ments ( hello, Or­lando Bloom!) do not as­sist in this re­gard.

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