The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern
Directed by Jane Anderson
It's tough to imagine a guy who won't squirm through this tale of 1950s housewife Evelyn Ryan (Julianne Moore), whose knack for winning jingle contests comes in handy when her booze-hound husband, Kelly (Woody Harrelson), drinks away his machinist salary instead of using it for the care and feeding of their ten kids. Director Jane Anderson, who adapted the script from a memoir by Evelyn's daughter Terry, clearly wants to show how one woman used her talent and optimism to break out of the pumpkin shell that society trapped her in. Sadly, Anderson's screenplay lacks the bite that distinguished her 1993 HBO movie The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom. The prize in this movie is Moore, a first-rate actress who finds layers in Evelyn that the script fails to investigate. Moore is the genuine article, finding the secret heart of a movie that is content to stay on the sappy surface.