Showing posts with label Julianne Moore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Julianne Moore. Show all posts

Saturday, March 19, 2016


The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, was pulled from theaters soon after its release in 2005 in only a small number of venues because of early negative reviews.  How sad.  Because my first viewing was interrupted several times and because I loved the film. I watched it twice.  Evelyn Ryan (Julianne Moore) is the mother of ten children, married to alcoholic Kelly Ryan (Woody Harrelson).  Kelly spends much of his wage as a machinist at the liquor store, which sometimes leaves the family with no money to buy food or milk before the next paycheck.

The running thread of Evelyn's (and Kelly's) humiliation is highlighted throughout the movie by Evelyn pleading and bargaining with Ray, the milkman, (Simon Reynolds) to leave milk for the children when she has no money to pay the bill.  The desperate and embarrassing plight of the family leads Kelly to despair and turn even more to the bottle for relief.

The story is true (allowing for artistic liberties) and is based on the book of the same name by "Tuff" Ryan (Jordan Todosey), one of the daughters of Evelyn and Kelly.  Set in the 1950s and 1960s, when the traditional role of a woman was to be a wife and mother, Evelyn is expected to put up with the lack of money and Kelly's occasional drunken rages and try harder to make the best of the situation.  Julianne Moore's performance is splendid.  Evelyn carries on, mostly cheerfully, against enormous odds for the sake of the children and for the sake of maintaining her own sanity.  With ten children, her options are few to none.

Prizes for sending in lyrics for jingles for TV commercials were in their heyday at the time, and Evelyn has a gift for finding the right words to match the jingle melodies.  Her family urges her to send in her lyrics, which she does, and she begins to win.  The prizes get larger and larger, and she goes from toasters, to freezers, to trips, cars, and money.   Usually, the trips have to be exchanged for funds, and the cars cars sold to make ends meet.

Before my review becomes too much of a spoiler, I'd better stop.  I'd only add that I recommend this sentimental, bittersweet movie highly.