This is a little movie that boasts a big ensemble cast, including a surprise cameo performance. I was happy to see this actor after quite a while. The film offers a nice look into a portion of the United States that is of particular interest to me. One has the opportunity to see and hear the people of Durham, North Carolina. The way in which they regard each other with such respect is well appreciated.
I would have liked to give this movie another star. There are a couple of weaker points in this. The movie, in itself, is charmingly well-acted and the plot is solid. I just wish they could have further pulled-out the story line by adding some time, or even shortened it, to more robustly develop the plot. For some, the ending may be questionable even a possible let down.
Colin Firth arrives in Durham traveling from a small town in Texas. There, he and his company have developed the town, employed the people and even added recreational properties. Now in Durham he wishes to do the same by renting Ellen Burstyn's emptied tobacco warehouse. He wishes to utilize it to store a company's hazardous waste, comes into conflict with the town, Burstyn herself, and her niece Patricia Clarkson. While the three are personally tackling several conflicts, along with the town itself, there is another side issue occurring.
Amber Tamblyn along with Orlando Bloom, who is now one of the city's police officers and going to college to become a lawyer, were once a couple. She is grasping at straws in an attempt to leave Durham for a fuller life, while Bloom stays living with his mother looking out for her welfare. Bloom doesn't want to leave the city, intending to work there as an attorney after school. These two have been close since high school where they were a steady couple and continue their relationship afterwards. They have since broken it off, although his mother and her parents still are hoping for a reconciliation.
The budding relationship between Clarkson and Firth starts prickly then getting plausible, and works, while Colin Firth involves her through the Aunt's interests in the warehouse. It hinges on the decision Burstyn must make, for stretching out the amount of time and money to rent her property to his company. This involves several opinions and Firth must first go before the local town board. He requests that Clarkson accompanies him there. At first Patricia Clarkson is stoically nondescript, then begins to soften around the edges, viewing Colin Firth as nonthreatening to her Aunt and to herself. He is only attempting to find a city that needs help financially to aid his company also.
During the entire movie, Burstyn is in a quandary about whether to sell her very old, overly large, and beautifully atmospheric home. She is quite aged now and has never lived anywhere but here. Since Burstyn was born there, she is now living through her past memories.
This movie is so well-acted and the spoken Southern wording is lovely to hear. There is a real ambiance to this; no swearing, no violence. Just a sweet story I wish would have gone on to a fuller conclusion to see where all these relationships would complete. For those who like their films easy going, this one would definitely toe the mark.