Picks and Pans Review: A Trip to Bountiful

updated 01/20/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/20/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

A warm heart beats at the core of this film, even if its pulse is sometimes so slow you'd need a stethoscope to detect any signs of life. Adapted by Horton (Tender Mercies) Foote from his 1953 TV script and play, the movie stars Geraldine Page as an aging woman living in Houston with her wimpy son and his shrewish wife. That they're supposed to be too poor to take Page on a visit to Bountiful, her girlhood home, is only one of the plot's implausibilities. It centers on Page's "escape," during which she encounters Rebecca (Risky Business) De Mornay, whose serviceman husband has just gone overseas. Page, among the most fidgety of actresses, can get on your nerves when she's onscreen as much as she is in this film. She manages, however, to make touching what is often a hackneyed story, balancing her sentimentality with a petulant streak. Foote's script does seem to celebrate its own mawkish banality, with rambling dialogue about Texas bird life and train schedules. John (After Hours) Heard, who plays the son, also overdoes the blandness. De Mornay provides some brightening and Carlin (Sixteen Candles) Glynn, as Page's daughter-in-law, is effectively bitchy. While director Peter Masterson in his first feature sometimes seems to be aiming for a golden-agers' The Last Picture Show, the film's doggedness, and Page's, is hard to ignore. (PG)

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