Picks and Pans Review: The Flamingo Rising

updated 02/05/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/05/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

CBS (Sun., Feb. 4, 9 p.m. ET)

Show of the week

Hallmark Hall of Fame productions generally have quality, but this is something special. Adapting Larry Baker's 1997 novel about the '60s feud between a flamboyant drive-in-theater operator and the proper owner of the neighboring funeral home, director Martha Coolidge (Rambling Rose) and writer Richard Russo (Nobody's Fool) make The Flamingo Rising feel more like an independent feature than a network movie. The comedy-drama is quirky, open to life's twists–even the cruel ones–and true to itself.

Hardworking Brian Benben doesn't quite capture the spirit of Hubert Lee, the dream merchant who builds a five-story silver screen on the Florida coast. But Elizabeth McGovern personifies sweet reason as Edna, the wife who understands and restrains him, and 13-year-old newcomer Christopher Larkin is perfect as Abraham, the earnest son (adopted from Korea) who tries to assess the morality of family secrets and lies. In the hands of a less resourceful actor than William Hurt, mortician Turner Knight might seem an underdeveloped character. But the puzzlement and pain in Hurt's eyes are worth a thousand words of exposition.

Bottom Line: Drive in and stay

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