October Country

Film
Recommended
5 out of 5 stars
October Country

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Jersey Shore may be the hyped example of trashy onscreen “reality,” but this portrait of an upstate working-poor family forsakes guilty-pleasure exploitation and simply wows you in every other way. Photo-essayist Donal Mosher builds upon his earlier work documenting his Mohawk Valley relatives, this time creating a 21st-century American Gothic spanning four eras and a host of social ills: unemployment and juvenile crime, domestic and sexual abuse, abortion and postwar trauma. Private fascinations with death and violence—and family dysfunctions passed between generations—are interwoven into a TV season’s worth of complex incident.

After a mere 80 minutes, you’re left wanting more—not just of a you-couldn’t-make-this-up ensemble that includes a Vietnam vet, his Wiccan sister, two single moms and a shoplifting foster child—but of a recession-era America brought to vivid life by Mosher and his collaborator, music-video director Michael Palmieri. October Country’s crisp, impressionistic visuals endow its small-town landscape with an otherworldly beauty, whether it’s the passing of seasons or the endless aisles of Wal-Mart. Intimate yet larger-than-life, this masterpiece of the everyday shows you don’t need James Cameron’s toy box to make images pop from the screen, much less to see and embrace the world anew.—Kevin B. Lee

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