Plainsong (2004) starring Aidan Quinn, Rachel Griffiths, America Ferrera, Geoffrey Lewis directed by Richard Pearce Movie Review

Plainsong (2004)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Aidan Quinn in Plainsong (2004)

Plain Yet Pretty

In the rural community of Holt, Colorado, teacher Tom Guthrie (Aidan Quinn) finds himself looking after his two sons all by himself when his wife having grown depressed and distant decides to leave. It leaves the boys feeling a sense of abandonment as they try to deal with how things have changed for them. Trying to help is work colleague Maggie Jones (Rachel Griffiths) who also finds herself helping teenager Victoria Roubideaux (America Ferrera) who has been kicked out of her home by her mother because she is pregnant. Initially staying with Maggie things become complicated by her aging father which sees Victoria going to live with Raymond (Geoffrey Lewis) and Harold McPheron (William Andrews), old farmers and brothers who have never got married.

Can a 97 minute movie do justice to a story which revolves around several characters and their individual situations? On a rare occasion it can but more often than not trying to cover everything within such a confined time limited is a bust. That is the problem which "Plainsong" has, a charming Hallmark movie with great characters and great story angles but which fails to do each of the characters and their situations justice.

America Ferrera in Plainsong (2004)

Whilst I don't like to get specific I feel a need to and hope that I don't give too much away but there is the character of Maggie who is sensitively portrayed by Rachel Griffiths. On one hand she tries to be supportive to Tom, she also helps out pregnant Victoria but has her own father who we presume is going senile but we never get to understand her or her situation. How comes Victoria goes to her, how long has she cared for her father, has she ever had anyone else and so on. And this is the problem with "Plainsong" as none of the characters are explored as fully as need be and in many ways there is enough material here for "Plainsong" to be a mini series and a really good one at that.

Yet the irony of this is that whilst "Plainsong" struggles to do justice to the characters it is still a fascinating and charming drama which is all about people and the friendships which form. It is easy to guess that all these characters will end up interweaving and in some cases become like a family but it is enjoyable to see for example how the aging brothers take to having a young pregnant girl living with them.

What this all boils down to is that "Plainsong" is a pleasant movie and one which is likely to charm anyone who watches it. But at the same time it struggles to develop the characters and their situations fully.