During the Depression, a sexy orphaned teenager (Laura Dern) from a sharecropper family moves in with a well-to-do southern family (including Robert Duvall, Diane Ladd, and Lukas Haas) to take care of the kids and help with the housework. Adapted by Calder Willingham from his own autobiographical novel and directed by Martha Coolidge (Valley Girl), this is a beautifully realized, finely felt period piece with strong characters and nuanced performances (all four of the leads shine) and an acute sense of the diverse incursions that female sexuality makes on southern gentility. While the film may not be fully achieved in every particular–John Heard is a mite awkward as the grown-up son in the film’s framing story–the ensemble playing and the overall attention to detail are first-rate. (Lincoln Village, Water Tower, Norridge, Old Orchard, Webster Place, Ford City)
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