Reviewed by: Dale Mason
Percy Talbot is only 24 years old. A spunky young brunette with a thick southern accent, Percy is a girl with a dream, and a past.
Just released from the prison which has been her home for nearly 8 years she boards a bus and looks to the forested mountains of Maine to hide the painful secret which has plagued her all her life.
Arriving in the small town of Gillead, Percy seeks to make a new start. She gets that opportunity when Hannah Ferguson (Ellen Burstyn) agrees to employ her at her broken down old diner, the Spitfire Grill. But life in this gossip-laden little town of set-in-their-ways old folk proves nerve-wracking, and discouraging. A fall suffered by Hannah seems sure to force the closing of the Spitfire and the firing of Percy. However, her stubborn persistence and the sweet-spirited help of an unlikely friend allow the restaurant to remain afloat while Hannah heals.
Upon learning that Hannah has been trying for years to sell the Spitfire, Percy suggests she attempt a new approach. Run a $100 per entry raffle, and make the Spitfire Grill with its attached house the prize! Percy enlists the eager help of her friends from the Maine Department of Tourism (staffed by fellow inmates) to talk up the raffle to newspapers nationwide. It becomes wildly successful. The sudden flood of cash and letters through the hands of the Gillead postal matron (who is also the #1 village gossip) creates both humor and introspection on the part of the townspeople. But when the cash turns up missing, it is Percy and a mysterious mountainman who are suspected.
This film is brimming with quality; an excellent script, excellent acting, deep/believable characters and an ending that is both sobering and inspiring. There is no nudity or even implied sex, no more than 6 or 7 profanities, and only very minor violence (someone gets slapped, someone else gets a couple of “verbal whippings”). A frank explanation by Percy of the painful secret that led to her imprisonment does make this exceptional film inappropriate for anyone but adults and older teens.
Overall, this independently produced film is an excellent choice with several refreshing Christian overtones.
Year of Release—1996