Ulee's Gold (1997)

This leisurely paced but increasingly gripping indy drama should be 
high on any summer moviegoer's list.  In the first (the first?) 
Oscar-worthy performance of the year, Peter Fonda plays Ulysses 
"Ulee" Jackson, a fiercely introverted Florida beekeeper who is 
playing single dad to his jailed son's daughters.  He leads a re-
clusive life, forgoing friends and the help of others, even during 
the busiest of bee seasons.  Everything expectedly changes with the 
arrival of the kid's drug-dependent mother.  In her dazed and con-
fused wake comes a kind nurse from across the street (Patricia 
Richardson, from "Home Improvement") and two small-time thugs who 
have unfinished business with Ulee's son.  While Fonda's perform-
ance is the obvious centerpiece here-- think an eerie invocation of 
his father crossed with, say, Clint Eastwood-- writer/director Vic-
tor Nunez (RUBY IN PARADISE) has crafted a story that's consistent-
ly engaging.  (Even if the methodical pacing is potentially sleep-
inducing.)  I particularly enjoyed a beekeeper's-eye view of honey-
making, as well as watching the step-by-step process of an entire 
family's healing.  (Rated "R"/111 min.)

Grade: A-

Copyright 1997 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: July 13, 1997

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