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Sweet Land
Stars: Elizabeth Reaser, Tim Guinee, Alan Cumming, Lois Smith, Alex Kingston, John Heard, Ned Beatty, and Sage Kermes  
Director: Ali Selim
Scriptwriters: Ali Selim
Forward Entertainment
Running Time: 111 minutes
Rated: PG

It is in the 1920ís, just after The Great War and before the Great Depression. Immigrants are coming to America for a new life. Among them are young women who will be brides for farmers and _Sweet Land_ is such a story. Inge (Elizabeth Reaser) has come to Minnesota from Germany to be the bride of Tim Guinee.  He has all the grace of a sleeping bull. They donít speak each otherís language. There has been a mistake; he thought she came from Norway. Inge lives at the home of Timís friends, Alan Cumming and Alex Kingston, until the marriage. However, an enormous problem develops, the town hates Germans because of the war and (a) Inge is German, plus (2) she can speak English and is ďdifferent.Ē The couple is shunned, but does Tim desert her? No, he digs his stubborn heels in and goes it alone, even down to harvesting acres and acres of corn. The man ruling the community is the minister (John Heard) who ignores the fact that German Martin Luther formed Lutheranism and the church sings Lutherís hymns, he doesnít like Inge because, well, her coffee is different.

Sweet Land is just that, sweet. It tells of adversity suffered on both sides of the prejudice fence and how neighbors bond because there is no one else to help. They came to America for a new life and now that life is affording them the precious chance to choose what to do. The land is ever there and ownership of such land is a lifelong dream. You donít lose it for anything from crop failure to a greedy bank.  Director/writer Ali Selim has put his hand on Central America and found the heart of the country. Actually,

this story could have been set in any country where people go to be free and own property.

The story is told in flashbacks and through old family photos. Lois Smith plays the older Inge in present day, as she contemplates what to do with the farm. We see a photo of Inge on her first day in this town. The wind is blowing her hair and someone has their hand in front of the camera. These are precious pictures as they are of her new life with no looking back, or as she says, ďNo regrets.Ē
We have a choice group of characters in the film starting with John Heardís portrayal of the stiff-necked minister. Heard is such a good character actor, he not only has a closet full of military uniforms, but now can add minister to the group. Ned Beatty is one of the townsmen, and then there is the judge and others. However, despite good acting of Elizabeth Reaser as the increasingly frustrated Inge and Tim Guinee as the equally frustrated and proud farmer, the land is the center of the film. Who would have thought that flat land, brilliant sunsets and miles and miles of sky could be beautiful. Well, my friend, welcome to central Minnesota. And letís not forget the Northern Lights, either, which play a part in one section of the film. 

Sweet Land is a family film and I say that because America was founded by immigrants and somewhere in your history is a story like this. This is a film to be savored like the pies that Inge and Alanís wife, Brownie, enjoy.

Copyright 2006 Marie Asner
Submitted 12/5/06



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