Women and Film : [Last Film I Watch] The Trip to Bountiful (1985) [7/10]

[Last Film I Watch] The Trip to Bountiful (1985) [7/10]

Title: The Trip to Bountiful
Year: 1985
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Drama
Director: Peter Masterson
Sreenwriter: Horton Foote
Music: J.A.C. Redford
Cinematography: Fred Murphy
Geraldine Page
John Heard
Carlin Glynn
Rebecca De Mornay
Richard Bradford
Kevin Cooney
Rating: 7/10

This is acting legend Geraldine Page’s final Oscar-winning performance at the age of 61, after harvesting eight nominations during her renowned silver-screen career, and she passed away two years later in 1987. So Ms. Close, don’t give up your hope yet, please live long and prosper.

THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL is an adaptation of Horton Foote’s eponymous play, sets in Houston in 1940s, Mrs. Watts (Page) lives with her son Ludie (Heard) and his wife Jessie Mae (Glynn) in a two-room apartment, for almost two decades, Mrs. Matts tries to visit her hometown, Bountiful, an obsolete town being forgotten by any train or bus schedule, for the last time, however, Ludie and Jessie Mae can always pre-empt her plan in the past years, this time, after a sleepless night and the quotidian spat with Jessie Mae, plus a sinking spell may indicate that she has some heart problem, Ms. Watts ramps up all the courage and she must go back to Bountiful on her own, with the pension check she smartly concealed from Jessie Mae.

Luck is also on her side, finally, she dodges Ludie and Jessie Mae’s search in the bus station and befriends with her fellow passenger Thelma (De Mornay), a young married girl whose husband is dispatched to the war zone, on the bus to the nearest town from Bountiful. A quasi mother-daughter bond builds tenderly while they confide their stories en route. When Thelma leaves for her destination, Mrs. Watts stays over in the local station until the Sheriff (Bradford) arrives to inform her that Ludie will fetch her up at the morning. Out of despair, Ms. Watts plead the Sheriff to drive her to Bountiful, allow her to see her old house for the last time before Ludie arrives.

This is a featherweight indie picture, with a handful of actors, spanning merely two nights and two days, Page’s Mrs. Watts is always in the centre of the story, she is a country girl in spirit, crammed in a small apartment and crashes with an ultra-selfish Jessie Mae in every possible way (the hymn, the pout and the gait), as she pointedly confesses to Thelma - when you have a son, when he marries, you lose a son, but if you have a daughter, when she marries, you get a son! She is too benign to defy Jessie Mae since Ludie is a weak-minded man, a mother’s self-sacrifice is inbuilt, her longing for the land where raises her is the only getaway from a grating reality. Ms. Page pitches at every note of emotions precisely in her warm and endearing performance, looks rather older than her real age, she doesn’t possess any idiosyncrasy or appeal to be a figure under the spotlight, Mrs. Watts is such an ordinary old woman one can meet everyday and pay no attention of, but thanks to Foote’s very personal and unostentatious script, her mere dream is amplified into a universally affecting pursuit of fulfilment, particularly edifying for us, as our parents are in the same range of Mrs. Watts, homesick, nostalgia and past memories become all they have in the world. In retrospect, it is rather astonishing to realise from Houston to Bountiful it only takes more or less 10-12 hours by driving, how come Ludie never brings his mother to visit for once is quite baffling, he is not that callous kind.

John Heard’s acting is not at the same clique as Page's not only because Ludie is a pretty dislikable character in default, his only great moment is his big confession scene, otherwise, he is a bland actor. Carlin Glynn’s Jessie Mae, on the other hand, excruciatingly hammy, but frankly speaking, Glynn saves the day by injecting a patina of self-awareness which underlines maybe Jessie Mae is not a complete damaged good, she is an egocentric virago for sure, but she is not the evil kind, she is not entirely hostile towards Mrs. Watts, her life is also stuck in a stifled status quo, sometimes we stupidly and unintentionally discharge our dissatisfaction towards those who are near us, it’s just human nature, no misogynous overtone is agitated.

In a word, THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL is Ms. Page’s showpiece to the hilt, a star-making device aiming for that golden statue and it succeeds, but you could say it is a fair play, and in 2014 a TV remake with a core black cast with Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams and Blair Underwood, verifies that this old yarn is still relevant nowadays.

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Re: [Last Film I Watch] The Trip to Bountiful (1985) [7/10]

In a word, THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL is Ms. Page’s showpiece to the hilt, a star-making device aiming for that golden statue and it succeeds

You're right. Geraldine Page was wonderful in this film and one also LOVES watching it whenever it airs.

Also had no idea that another version of it had been made, so thanks for the heads up!!!

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