A young boy, his family, and the migrant workers they hire to work their cotton farm struggle against difficult odds to raise and sell the crop. Meanwhile, the boy dreams of living in better conditions. However, with this particularly tough farming season, the boy learns that his challenges guide him in discovering who he really is.
From the same director
Scott Glenn (Eli 'Pappy' Chandler), Arija Bareikis (Kathleen Chandler), Robert Sean Leonard (Jesse Chandler), Melinda Dillon (Gran Chandler), Logan Lerman (Luke Chandler), Audrey Marie Anderson (Tally Spruill), Geoffrey Lewis (Mr. Spruill), Pablo Schreiber (Hank Spruill), Michael Shamus Wiles (Stick Peters), Luis Garcia (Cowboy (as Luis Esteban Garcia)), Miguel Pérez (Miguel), Diane Delano (Mrs. Spruill), Lucas Elliot Eberl (Trot Spruill (as Luke Eberl)), Sean Harrison Jones (Bo Spruill (as Sean Jones)), Richard Crowe (Mr. Latcher), Neva Howell (Mrs. Darla Latcher), Liz Byler (Libby Latcher), Donna Denley (Mrs. Watson), Don Pirl (Mr. Watson), Silas Weir Mitchell (Jimmy Dale), Kiersten Warren (Stacy Dale), John Boyd West (Jackie Moon), Cody Block (Percy Latcher (uncredited)), John Grisham (Narrator (voice) (uncredited)), Carlos Moreno Jr. (Voice (uncredited))...
In Arkansas during the Korean War, 10-year-old Luke Chandler lives with his parents and grandparents on a farm where cotton is the primary crop. To pick the cotton, the family must hire 'hill people' and Mexicans. The hill people do not get along particularly well with those who look down on them, and sometimes they get into fights. Hank Spruill is especially prone to getting in trouble. One day in the house, he makes demands of Luke and, figuring Luke looks down on him, points out that at least his house is painted, while to Luke's family, paint is a luxury. Later in the movie, part of the house has been mysteriously painted. The prime suspect is Hank's disabled brother Trot, who can't work in the fields.
Luke witnesses a fight Hank gets into that results in a death. He is afraid to tell the truth since Hank doesn't like him anyway, but the police officer who investigates appears satisfied with the explanation of self-defense. Hank's teenage sister appears to be falling for Luke at first, but later she is seen with Cowboy, one of the Mexicans, and Hank already despises Cowboy.
The hard life on the farm is made even worse by several weather events during the second half of the movie. The promise of better times ahead is suggested when Luke's cousin shows up in a brand new Buick (Luke has never even been in a car, only trucks). His spoiled rich wife can't believe people have to live like this and is horrified by having to use an outhouse (This was one of my favorite scenes; Kiersten Warren is so good in roles like this). Also, the whole town is excited by a new thing called television and the idea of actually being able to watch the World Series. Luke is a Cardinals fan, but he gives up his dream of a Cardinals jacket for something more important.
This is almost a family movie. There are two violent scenes that result in deaths (both witnessed by Luke; the second time, the person responsible threatens Luke's mother if he tells). People get into fights a lot in this environment, but the others are no big deal. Other possible red flags for parents: the birth of a child to an unwed mother, and the identification of a possible father. Other than these incidents, this movie could be acceptable viewing for the entire family.
This movie was well done, and I thought the performances by many of the actors were good. I especially liked Luke's grandfather, who could be stern but tender. Not everyone has an easy life, and those of us who had it too soft can learn a lot from a movie such as this.
A Estância (Brazil) • Vammeno me aima (Greece (DVD title)) • A festett ház (Hungary) • Malowany dom (Poland) • Segredos de Infância (Portugal) • Det målade huset (Sweden) • Hallmark Hall of Fame: A Painted House (#52.3) (USA (anthology series)) • John Grisham's A Painted House (USA (complete title))
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