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Jurgen Fauth & Marcy Dermansky

Review: Sweet Land

By October 19, 2006

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Ali Selim's independent film Sweet Land won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2005 Hamptons International Film Festival and I know just what pleased that audience: Elizabeth Reaser. An up-and-coming actress who has worked in television (Law and Order, The Sopranos) and is making her way in film (soon to be seen in the Sundance hit Puccini for Beginners), Reaser is beyond striking; you would not mistake her for any other actress. In every scene, the camera eats her up: her chiseled features, willowy frame, and long curls that peak out of period hats.

Reaser stars as Inge, a German immigrant without proper papers who arrives in Minnesota in 1920 to marry a Norwegian farmer she has never met. Inge doesn't speak English. Much of her dialogue in Sweet Land is in bursts of frustrated bits of Dutch and German, small bits of pique and spirit that are ridiculously endearing. Sweet Land tells her story: her awkward courtship and difficult entry into a small, religious community. The film begins and ends at the funeral of an old man, implying a long and happy life for the couple. The scenes in the present do not resonate--perhaps because of Reaser's absence. With Alan Cumming and Ned Beatty. Sweet Land opened yesterday. 3 stars. [posted by Marcy]

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