Places in the Heart (1984)

A pleasingly leisurely and ultimately worthwhile slice of life drama set in the 1930’s—if one can manage sitting through the slow troughs.

Memorably, as people are sitting in a church, the relationship between a young man and a sheriff is resolved in the best way possible: they experience reconciliation through the symbols of communion. Before this, an older African American, Moses (Danny Glover), comes into the life of the widow of the sheriff, Edna Spalding (Sally Field) although it is through a sense of “luck”. Edna Spalding gives Moses work and he encourages her to pay off what she owes the bank by teaching her cotton-picking skills. For one season, he helps her raise a cotton harvest. Even if Moses must go, because of the Klu Klux Klan around the neighbourhood – one of which, a businessman, is threatened by Moses’ skills at negotiating cotton prices – Edna will know how to pick cotton next season. Moses, like the Moses of the Bible, is her deliverer. Places in the Heart unfolds leisurely but beautifully, is worthwhile, well-meaning, sincere, and features a vivid cast of characters in slice-of-lifer situations. Very well acted. Beautifully filmed.

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