Show of the week
It's the American character, right? Have to sell yourself. Have to hustle to make a mark, to skirt the humiliating oblivion of failure—all that desperate Death of a Salesman stuff about riding out there on nothing but a shoeshine and a smile. Yet here is a two-hour movie, based on fact, that turns the life of a salesman into a touching fable about getting on in the world without having too many toes bruised by slamming doors.
Bill Porter, now 69, was born with cerebral palsy that affected his speech and movement. But he had the skill and drive to make a living peddling household goods from rug shampoo to doggie biscuits in Portland, Ore., for a company called Watkins. As played by William H. Macy, Porter doesn't triumph through tear-stained gumption (let alone Forrest Gumption). He's a modest, thoughtful man, raised by a modest, thoughtful mother (Helen Mirren) who writes "persistence" with ketchup on his sandwiches. (A sweet, farklemt moment.) After her death—and with the help of a college student (Kyra Sedgwick) for deliveries—he finds a surrogate family in his customers, all beset by their own problems. Some are solved, some aren't. Porter, meanwhile, is out there with a smile, a shoeshine and his integrity.
Bottom Line: Inspired