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Laramie Movie Scope:
Spitfire Grill

Great acting almost goes to waste

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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October 6, 1996 -- "Spitfire Grill" is an artsy film with a very weak story, barely rescued by very strong acting. It's not great, but it will jerk a tear or two.

The winner of the audience award at the 1996 Sundance Film festival features a marvelous performance by Allison Elliott, who plays Perchance (Percy) Talbot. Talbot is an ex-convict with a tortured soul who tries to find balm in Gilead, a small town in Maine. As the Raven could have told her, that's not likely.

Elliott doesn't have to carry the film on her shoulders, even though it looks like she could have, because there's a solid supporting cast, including Ellen Burstyn (who plays the owner of the grill (Hannah Ferguson), Marcia Gay Harden (Shelby Goddard) and Will Patton who portrays Nahum Goddard, Shelby's wrong-headed husband.

The film works woderfully as a character study. It also uses location photography by Robert Draper to create an uncanny sense of place. But this light character study explodes into a full blown melodrama at the end using a bunch of tired old cliches, like misplaced money, your standard hermit in the woods and an almost laughably melodramatic drowning. Give us a break. With a more imaginative story, this could have been a great movie, but as it is, it's just a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 1996 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)