Every once in a while a not-so-great film comes along with a heart so big it’s difficult to criticize the thing without feeling like you’re going to burn in hell. The Rising Place is that kind of film. Virginia Wilder (Frances Fisher) visits her Aunt Millie (Alice Drummond) for Christmas and discovers a stack of letters the old woman wrote during World War II. While Millie recalls how she and her young African-American best friend used to frolic in fields of wisteria in the Mississippi Delta of the 1940s, Virginia engages her aunt’s pre-political teenage years via a series of letter-reading sequences that bring to mind the squeamish present-day scenarios from Clint Eastwood’s remarkable The Bridges of Madison County. The dopey young Millie (Laurel Holloman) gets knocked up by some flyboy and summons the wrath of her religious father. She shrugs off her black sheep status and sits inside the backroom of Melvina Pou’s (Beth Grant) Cajun diner with the town’s other undesirables, including perpetual liar Will Bacon (Mark Webber) and best friend Wilma Watson (Elise Neal). In the course of 90 minutes, Millie not only gets to put her baby up for adoption after incurring her runaway flyboy’s rejection but she also gets to bear the brunt of the Civil Rights Movement. According to the film’s opening narration, Millie suggests that every gal—even a displaced southern belle—experiences a rising place. When mean ol’ Eddie Scruggs (Scott Openshaw) literally pushes Wilma over the edge, the proud teacher lands on her head and its up to the otherwise unremarkable Millie to pull a Marisa Tomei routine in a Jackson courtroom and save the day. The cast is uniformly excellent even though Holloman plays the young Millie is if she’s yet to develop a second brain cell. Rising Place has flavor to burn but still feels as if its choking on crawfish. The overall feel is not unlike watching a glorified episode of “7th Heaven.”
- Flatland Pictures
- 92 min
- Tom Rice
- Tom Rice
- Laurel Holloman, Elise Neal, Mark Webber, Liam Aiken, Billy Campbell, Gary Cole, Alice Drummond, Frances Fisher, Mason Gamble, Beth Grant, Tess Harper, S. Epatha Merkerson, Scott Openshaw, Frances Sternhagen, Jennifer Holliday
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