Director Robert Mulligan returns with great success to the stomping grounds of adolescent angst that proved so richly fruitful for him with To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and The Summer of '42 (1971). The director's facility with young actors is proven again with a knockout performance from talented teenager Reese Witherspoon, delivering a fully developed, remarkably self-assured turn alongside such intimidating veteran thespians as Sam Waterston and Tess Harper. Lacking in the sort of high-concept appeal that tugs modern audiences into theaters, Mulligan's highly literary film is more of a short story than a novel, but that doesn't detract from its power. In fact, The Man in the Moon (1991) is the sort of sun-dappled country piece deceptively robust with high emotion that might be written by Horton Foote and directed by Robert Benton. Praise for a homespun drama doesn't get much higher than that.