"Struggling to Make the Speed Limit"
In BONNEVILLE, a recently widowed middle-aged woman embarks on a cross country car trip with three friends to deliver the ashes of her recently departed husband to his daughter in California. BONNEVILLE is a low energy but charming and bittersweet road movie that includes some mixed messages pitting religious convictions versus the lure of the world.
Love covers a multitude of sins, and, in BONNEVILLE, three somewhat weathered but still delightfully talented female actors cover for a low energy, slow paced, rather uninventive bittersweet story with all the dignity and poise their careers have earned them.
Jessica Lange plays Arvilla, whose husband, Bill (Tom Amande), has just passed away. Bill’s last wish was for Arvilla to scatter his ashes to the wind in various locations holding a special meaning to them. Sadly, Arvilla’s intention to do just that is resisted by her husband’s daughter, Francine (Christine Baranski), who wants Arvilla to hand over the ashes so she can take them back to California. Francine happens to have inherited her father’s house, and, unless Arvilla agrees to give her the ashes, Francine will sell the house. Arvila now faces the dilemma of either losing her home, or failing to honor her husband’s last wishes.
Enter Arvilla’s two best friends, Margene (Kathy Bates) and Carol (Joan Allen). After some spirited discussion, they finally convince Arvilla to deliver “Bill” to Francine, but Arvilla in turn persuades her two buddies to accompany her for moral support. As a result of Arvilla’s continuing indecision, the trio misses their flight, and the quick round trip to California turns into a revealing, in more ways than one, road saga in Bill’s old, but well kept Bonneville through the beautiful scenery of Idaho, Utah and California. Along the way viewers discover the women are Mormons with very strong religious/moral values, and those values become tested in the various vicissitudes they encounter as they slowly make their way to the impatiently awaiting Francine.
Lange, Bates and Allen manage to make this slow, rather plodding movie entertaining by pooling the power of their acting skills for the best possible results. They are further helped by Tom Wopat as Arlo, a young hitchhiker on a mission to find the father he never knew, and Tom Skerritt, as Emmett, a widower truck driver who has a sunny, positive disposition and takes a liking to Margene. The, should we say, controversial, aspect to this movie is the seeming dichotomy which occurs when these Mormon women barely suppress their lustful thoughts toward the men they meet along the way. Carol, who is married, instead gives in to the lure of a slot machine and drinks an alcoholic beverage.
BONNEVILLE is the kind of movie that has the warm and comfortable feel of a favorite well-worn sweater, but also as such, the kind that sports a few holes and stains here and there which can no longer be repaired.
(BB, FR, C, L, V, S, A, M) Dominant moral worldview occasionally challenged by common worldly compromises, plus a false religious perspective from a Mormon point of view having some Christian parallels is also shown, though without dealing much with the more controversial aspects of Mormon theology; three obscenities and profanities; some brief light violence resulting from the attempted theft of a purse, involving some back and forth tussling resulting in a mild injury; no actual sexual activity other than a couple of tasteful kisses, but there is some innuendo and depiction of lustful attitudes; no nudity, brief alcohol use; no smoking or drugs; and, attempted stealing of a purse.
BONNEVILLE stars Jessica Lange as Arvilla, whose husband, Bill, has just passed away. Bill’s last wish is for Arvilla to scatter his ashes in various spots holding special meaning to them. Bill’s daughter in California, Francine, wants Arvilla to hand over the ashes to her. Francine inherited her father’s house, and, unless Arvilla agrees to surrender the ashes, Francine will sell it. Enter Arvilla’s two best friends, Margene and Carol, played by Kathy Bates and Joan Allen. Eventually, they convince Arvilla to deliver “Bill” to Francine in California, but Arvilla persuades them to accompany her for support. The trio misses their flight, and their road trip in Bill’s old but well-kept Bonneville car turns into a revealing road saga.
Lange, Bates and Allen manage to make this slow, plodding movie entertaining by pooling the power of their acting skills. They are helped by supporting performances from Tom Wopat and Tom Skerritt. Along the way, viewers discover the women are Mormons with very strong religious, moral values, but there are not many references to the more controversial aspects of Mormon theology. BONNEVILLE also contains some light sexual innuendo and minor foul language.