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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » A Painted House
A Painted House
Artisan // Unrated // October 21, 2003
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Shannon Nutt | posted November 29, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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THE MOVIE

What's this? A television movie based on a John Grisham novel that isn't about lawyers?! Yes, it's true – A Painted House isn't the typical John Grisham story, but it's just as involving as some of the other work we've seen from him.

Directed by Alfonso Arau, who also directed Like Water For Chocolate and A Walk in the Clouds, this Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie does a great job of transporting itself back to the south of the early 1950's, where young Luke Chandler learns about life during one harvest season on his parents' and grandparents' cotton farm.

As the movie opens, Luke's grandfather (Scott Glenn) is looking for workers to help them with the cotton harvest. He hires a group of migrant Mexican workers, and he also hires a family of "Hill People", who have a son with a violent streak, and a young daughter whom Luke finds himself drawn to.

One of the major plots running through A Painted House is how Luke witnesses a fight in which the violent son of the family working for them kills someone in a town fight. But the real story here is simply watching how director Arau makes us feel as we're actually back in the 50's and part of this group of people's lives. Much in the same way he made us part of Anthony Quinn's grape harvesters in A Walk in the Clouds, so too do we feel as if we're part of Scott Glenn's cotton harvesters in A Painted House.

THE DVD

Video:
For a television production, the video here is nicely transferred and overall provides a fairly sharp picture. The movie is presented in the full-frame format, and both the overall color and flesh tones seem to be properly balanced.

Audio:
Although the box cover claims that the audio is presented in 2.0 Dolby, it was a nice surprise to discover that the track here is actually in 5.1 Dolby. It's not a particularly aggressive track, but since the movie is heavy on dialogue anyway, the track is more than serviceable.

Extras:
The DVD is light in the extras department, providing us with a few text-only supplements. A Production Notes section tells us a little bit about the film and the book upon which it is based. A Cast & Credits section is basically a text printing of the major credits for the movie. Finally, there's a Biographies section that gives us some detailed information about the cast, director, writer and producers.

THE BOTTOM LINE

A Painted House is a very watchable movie, but probably not one viewers will want to watch again and again once they've seen it for the first time. I found the production to have a very Waltons-like feel to it, so if you enjoy that kind of old-fashioned entertainment, you should enjoy this film. If nothing else, it's certainly worth adding to your rental list.
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