Beneath the Harvest Sky
A teen drama set during the fall potato harvest in a small northern Maine town.
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★★★★½ review by Jack Read on Letterboxd
This one snuck up on me. I rented it on Amazon because I recognized the top billed name - Emory Cohen. He played Bradley Cooper's son in THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, one of my favorite movies from 2013, and one I wish more people had talked about at the end of the year. The supporting cast also intrigued me - among the ones that stuck out, Aidan Gillen and Timm Sharp. I decided to give it a go.
I'm so glad I did. A film like this is a rarity. It's a small-scale story about expectations - the ones people have for you, and the ones you have for yourself. In many ways it feels like a novel, with so much rich detail that you have to find for yourself. It's deceptively simple, and there are moments that were genuinely suspenseful for me because I was terrified it would move into small-town hard-boiled crime thriller territory. It never does, always choosing the human story first. The one thing resembling an action setpiece is loud and scary and, in the end, devastating.
Rural Maine is beautifully shot without ever being showy. It's shot the way hometowns feel, cozy and safe but with the ever-lingering sense that soon, it will be time to go. The soundtrack supports and amplifies your increasing heart rate as you quickly grow to care more and more for every single person that you meet on screen.
This is one of the most well-acted movies I will see this year. I have decided that I will see everything Emory Cohen does, and no matter what type of character he plays, I will root for him to find the place he needs to be. Aidan Gillen is the closest thing there is to a villain in this movie, but never once does he twirl his mustache or start playing Littlefinger. It is never said or even implicitly implied by the text, but you get the sense that he's a man who listened to what others said he would become, and never thought twice about it. Everyone is beautiful in this film; Timothy Simons from VEEP is in one scene and we learn all we need to know by looking at the oil on his hands and the way he reacts to having a potato cannon pointed at him.
There is one performance that I have to give its own paragraph. Besides ENLIGHTENED (R.I.P.), I have not noted Timm Sharp in anything since Judd Apatow's UNDECLARED. This movie carries the classic model of a tragedy in many ways, and while Sharp's character Badger could have been written and performed as a cartoon, he is instead a thoughtful, simple character faced with a choice that, no matter the outcome, will change him. I am amazed that Seth Rogen's weirdo college roommate is the one playing this role. (This is my favorite scene of his in UNDECLARED: www.youtube.com/watch?v=R25pdKs3vmY)
I could and will not recommend BENEATH THE HARVEST SKY more highly. It features one of the great "driving off into the sunset" endings, with a visual payoff that left me quietly sobbing. I will not forget it for a very long time.
★★★★★ review by Matt Inman on Letterboxd
A rare masterpiece of a film. This is a film that truly sneaked up on me - and proceeded to punch me in my gut and leave me winded. This film at first glance doesn't look too much different from the other gritty small town dramas to come out in recent years (ie: Winter's Bone, Mud, Joe, etc.) There are films with characters, then there are films with PEOPLE. This has the former. No film has ever shown me more fully realized and relate-able characters. You feel like you know the people on screen with just how authentically they are portrayed and with the small details you learn about them as the movie progresses. The film doesn't have a whole lot going on in terms of plot - just two teens desperately trying to escape from a small town and move to Boston. However this is what makes it the most interesting is that without a very specific plot you can see nearly anything happen as the story goes forward. There is a slow burn throughout this film as you are filled with wonder as to where the characters will go. Everyone acts excellently. Not to mention there is an absolutely gorgeous soundtrack and cinematography. I will address a qualm that the film is boring. While yes the film is slow, it is only meant to be that way so you can feel as stuck as the characters on screen are. Overall this is a greatly realistic, powerful southern drama that I highly recommend.
★★★★ review by dieledd on Letterboxd
Heartwarming..helps you to ponder more about life..
★★★½ review by Elias Elias on Letterboxd
This is a great film, you can feel the town they are in, you can feel the isolation of that place, their problems, their reactions.
The actors are great, the camera work is awesome, it captures the essence of the town.
I love to see projects like this one, low budget and great results.
★★★½ review by Raph Lumbroso on Letterboxd
Beneath the Harvest Sky is highly watchable and features a great soundtrack but essentially has the narrative of your average pop-punk track; dissatisfied kids yearning to leave their hometown behind for better days.
Emory Cohen who starred alongside Dane DeHaan in my favorite film of last year - The Place Beyond The Pines - continues to show that he is a noteworthy talent but plays almost the exact same character as he did then.
I'll definitely be watching his future films in the hope that he plays against type soon.
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