Bastard Out of Carolina (1996)

R   |    |  Drama

Bastard Out of Carolina (1996) Poster

A mother and daughter find their lives adversely affected when a new man enters the picture. Will their family ever be what they expect?

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  • Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jena Malone in Bastard Out of Carolina (1996)
  • Glenne Headly in Bastard Out of Carolina (1996)
  • Jena Malone in Bastard Out of Carolina (1996)
  • Dermot Mulroney in Bastard Out of Carolina (1996)
  • Grace Zabriskie in Bastard Out of Carolina (1996)
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh in Bastard Out of Carolina (1996)

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7 September 2006 | agbwillow
| Disturbing but worthwhile
This is an often shocking but necessary film about a young girl called Bone and the abuse she suffers at the hands of her stepfather, Daddy Glen. The film is hard to watch at times but there are lighter moments when Bone's extended family are on screen. The book contains a much wider scope and naturally many of these subplots didn't make it into the screenplay. Ultimately, the film feels a little rushed and could have benefited from another half hour or so.

The quality of the acting is patchy. Lyle Lovett's delivery of his few lines of dialogue is very wooden compared to Michael Rooker's excellent portrayal of gentle giant Earl. Jena Malone does a brilliant job in obviously difficult circumstances as young Bone. The look in her eyes breaks your heart whenever things are about to turn violent, making you want to rescue her yourself. Jennifer Jason Leigh is fine as Bone's mother but you feel like you never really get to see beneath the surface of her determined expression to understand her motives for standing by her man in the face of Glen's obvious resentment of her daughter.

Ron Eldard is excellent in his depiction Glen, expertly capturing the character's pathetic childishness behind those icy blue eyes. Eldard often seems to play characters with a dark side and this role plays to his strengths, even if his southern accent slips from time to time. His scenes of violence with Bone are harrowing to watch and you can't help but feel uncomfortable, given the age of Jena Malone at the time. I know it's 'only acting' but the scenes are very realistic and graphic for a young actress to endure.

The film is one that ought to be shown to any single mother tempted to jump into a relationship with a hot-headed young man with questionable intentions.

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