Film Scouts Reviews


by Henri Béhar

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A CIBY 2000 Presentation. Director: Ulu Grosbard. Executive producer: Ben Barenholtz. Producers: Ulu Grosbard, Barbara Turner, Jennifer Jason Leigh. Screenplaywright: Barbara Turner. Cinematographer (color): Jan Kiesser. Editor: Elizabeth Kling. Production designer: Lester Cohen. Sound: Mark Weingarten. Distributed by Miramax. Running time: 117 minutes.

Cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mare Winningham, Max Perlich, Ted Levine, John Doe, John C. Reilly, Jimmy Witherspoon, Jason Carter, Tom Bower.

Director Ulu Grosbard has always been interested in family conflicts. In his film debut, THE SUBJECT WAS ROSES (1968), a young soldier just back from war (Martin Sheen) was trying to renew his difficult rapport with his father and his mother (Patricia Neal). TRUE CONFESSIONS (1981) opposed two brothers, one a power-hungry priest (Robert de Niro), the other a tough detective (Robert Duvall). As a stage director, Grosbard also directed Jon Voight in Arthur Miller's A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE and Robert Duvall, again, in David Mamet's AMERICAN BUFFALO, both family stories.

Also a family story now set in the world of music, GEORGIA deals with the rapport between to sisters. One sings like an angel (Georgia), the other (Sadie) screeches like chalk on a blackboard. (Brace up, folks: all the music scenes were recorded live, in front of an audience!) Almost matronly proper, Georgia (Mare Winningham) is happily married, has two kids and a sprawling farmhouse outside Seattle. Grungy, punk-like, made up to look almost like a raccoon, Sadie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is everything Georgia isn't: high-strung, strung-out, and a strong drinker. Yet Sadie has what Georgia hasn't: a passion, a total lack of inhibition, a ferocious appetite for life.

The key to GEORGIA, however, may be less Ulu Grosbard than the combination of scriptwriter Barbara Turner and actresses Jennifer Jason Leigh and Mare Winningham. Turner is Leigh's mother (they also co-produce) and Winnigham used to be Leigh's summer camp counselor. A seasoned actress both in films and on television (also a songwriter-performer who sings two of her own compositions here), Mare Winnigham, incredibly, remains to be discovered--dare one speak of a Susan Sarandon for the 1990s? As spunky, zestfully exuberant Sadie, Jennifer Jason Leigh gives the naked, vulnerable performance of a lifetime.

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