Synopsis by Bhob Stewart
Susanna Styron made her feature directorial debut with this family drama, an adaptation of a 1978 short story by her father, novelist William Styron (Sophie's Choice). Paul Whitehurst (voice of Martin Sheen) recalls Depression-era events in Tidewater, Virginia, when he was ten years old. In the summer of 1935, lonely young Paul (Scott Terra), with his strict father (Darrell Larson) and fatally ill mother (Deborah Hedwall), is raised in a boring, middle-class way of life, so mundane it leads him into a friendship with the lower-class Dabneys, once aristocratic but now reduced to poverty on the former Dabney plantation. Bootlegger Vernon (Harvey Keitel) is married to earthy beer-drinking Trixie (Andie MacDowell), and Paul enjoys the fun-loving lifestyle of this couple and their seven children. Shadrach (John Franklin Sawyer), a 99-year-old former slave, turns up one day at the Dabney house after walking barefoot from Alabama to Virginia, where he was born into slavery. Since Shadrach's wish to be buried on the Dabney's land violates Virginia law, the request sets a variety of racist attitudes and conflicts into motion. Shown at the 1998 LA Independent Film Festival.
bigotry, burial, childhood, friendship, Great-Depression, plantation, racism, bootlegging
High Production Values, Sleeper