The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio:
I’ve gotta book a trip to this little place with pop culture impact. While this film is not scandalous, it is touching and stars Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson based on the book by Terry “Tuff” Ryan about her mother, Evelyn, and how she was able to help support ten children by her winning do-da jingles.
It’s not a career-defining role for either of the starring actors but it attests to their ability to act in independent and major films, this film being the former. Kelly Ryan, played by Harrelson, is the breadwinner of the house but his alcoholism and jealousy kept him from keeping a steady job and thus Evelyn is the bread, freezer, refrigerator, washer and dryer, food winner right from the comfort of a television screen.
With the economy being in the shape it currently is in, why aren’t there contests like this anymore? Maybe because the simple life of tightly restricted girdles and real housewives are of no more and that corporations only want money for themselves but I digress. Watching Evelyn use alliteration, contractions and verse to make up these cute and concise jingles was fascinating. She was speaking my kind of language.
In the 1950s, it seemed like violence was a just grab of the arm. Evelyn and Kelly had their rough patches but they loved each other. You did know whom the kids protected in case something went down. It was sad to watch how confined Evelyn was. She didn’t have a license or a car to drive yet she was keeping the family together financially and more. Her happiness seemed to be a sham but she kept a good front for her kids.
This is a lighthearted film with family themes that are well put together. Watching Kelly in his drunken jealousies was about the most irritating part of the film but makes the film honest. At the most, it is amazing what Evelyn did to take care of her family and discover her life along the way.