Accomplished actress Anjelica Huston, daughter of John Huston, made her directorial debut with this absorbing, often wrenching story of child abuse in the 1950s American South. Based on a novel by Dorothy Allison, the film (narrated by Laura Dern) tells the tale of Bone (Jena Malone), a poor white girl so named because she was born right after her mother survived a terrifying car crash. While Bone is still a small child, her single mother, Anney (Jennifer Jason Leigh), meets and marries the sweet Lyle (Dermot Mulroney), and the two add another daughter to the family before Lyle dies in an auto accident. Anney is next courted by the less good-natured Glen (Ron Eldard), who takes out his rage on Bone both physically and sexually, as Bone becomes even more disillusioned at her mother's inability to get away from her monstrous husband. Set in South Carolina in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Bastard Out Of Carolina touches on many aspects of life, family, and hardship amidst the poor white of the South. TNT owner Ted Turner refused to air the film, ostensibly because of its difficult subject matter, but the film goes out of its way to handle its material with as little exploitation as possible.
by Don Kaye synopsis