One comes to hustle, but the rest may not bustle
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.