31 May 2005 | jotix100
The ghost of the past
Richard Russo's brilliant novel gets a full movie treatment from HBO Films under the direction of Fred Schepisi. This multi layered saga of people in a small and forgotten town in Maine follows Mr. Russo's novel and makes its people come alive, as portrayed by some of America's best actors working as an ensemble under Mr. Schepisi's unobtrusive direction.
Empire Falls serves as a metaphor for all that has happened in most New England towns when industry abandoned them and unscrupulous liquidators came to pick at the bones of whatever was left behind in order to make an easy buck.
At the center of the story we find Miles Roby, a decent man who has to deal with the present day realities and try to keep his family together. As played by Ed Harris, Miles offers the actor one of the best roles he has given us in years. Helen Hunt, on the other hand, seems to be miscast in the role of Janine; her fake accent doesn't seem to help her.
Paul Newman, as the eccentric patriarch of the Roby family, loses himself in his role and we forget we are watching anyone by that crazy Max Roby. Philip Seymour Hoffman makes a great contribution with a small appearance. Robin Wright Penn is seen briefly also as Grace, Miles mother who is a key figure in the story.
The rest of the cast is excellent.
The best thing that can come out of this adaptation is that people will flock to read Richard Russo's novels because he is an important voice in American literature.