Reviewed by: Julia Sharma
The movie “A Thousand Acres” is based on a book with the same title by Jane Smiley. I had not read the book before seeing the movie and was glad that I hadn't. It seems that Jane Smiley tries to pack almost everything terrible that could happen to one family into one movie and it is just too much.
The movie takes place in Iowa on one family’s thousand acres of prime farm land. The staunch patriarch (Jason Robards) lives in the big house on the farm and two of his three daughters (Jessica Lange and Michelle Pfeiffer) live in the smaller houses on the farm with their husbands. The third and youngest daughter (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has apparently escaped Daddy’s reign of terror and is a lawyer in Des Moines, Iowa.
As Daddy is getting on in age, he decides to incorporate the farm and divide it up between his three daughters. When the youngest balks at the move he swiftly cuts her out and moves ahead with his plans leaving the farm equally to his older two daughters. Through the process of trying to reconcile their father and sister we find out just what kind of family we are dealing with: affairs, incest, senility, death of the compassionate parent and loveless marriages. The only way the family seems to deal with their problems is through anger and denial. They are a church going family but their faith is not alive.
The movie leaves a sour note about Christians. In one instance the daughters are wondering if anyone would believe that their father had molested them because “he was a church going man.” In another instance the only big fist fight in the movie takes place at a church get-together and even the prayer offered over the gathering by the minister was flippant. Jane Smiley obviously does not have much faith in our faith.
This is not even a renter—unless you want to picture how the world would be without Christ in it!