See it because its lead actress, Jessica Chastain, delivers a knockout performance that earned her roles in several high-profile projects to come. There’s even early Oscar talk surrounding her work in Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” so the star-in-the-making must be the real deal (which she is).

Based on a short story by E.L. Doctorow (“Ragtime,” “Billy Bathgate”), Dan Ireland’s drama chronicles 10 full, fallible years in the hard-knock life of Jolene, a redheaded orphan who escapes — or so she believes — sexual abuse by marrying well-meaning doofus Mickey (Zeb Newman, in his feature debut). He’s 20; she’s 15; they live with his leering Uncle Phil (Dermot Mulroney), married to a shrew of an unpleasant woman (Theresa Russell).

That doesn’t last long. Nor Jolene’s stay in a mental ward, a lesbian affair, a marriage to a tattoo artist (Rupert Friend, “The Young Victoria,” channeling a mix of Johnny Depp and Russell Brand), being a kept mistress of a Vegas bigwig (Chazz Palminteri) and several other situations, including out-of-necessity stints as a stripper and a prostitute. Can she finally find happiness with an oil-wealthy Tulsan (Michael Vartan, TV’s “Alias”)? Don’t answer too quickly.

With Jolene suffering a tragedy between each broken heart, the film sounds like the stuff of a week of Lifetime movies. Ireland’s script is smarter than that, even if his work feels episodic, with characters entering for a stretch and then exiting for good. But it allows Jolene to fine-tune her true identity as she tries on many figurative hats, and thus, allows Chastain to develop a character that grows before our very eyes, from naive to nurturing to determined.

The movie is good. Chastain is astounding. —Rod Lott

Rod Lott

This material falls under the archives category because it was imported from our previous website. It will eventually be filtered into the proper category as time allows.

Related posts



WordPress Lightbox