On the Farm

Small-town stud Tully (Anson Mount) works the family farm with his younger brother Earl (Glenn Fitzgerald) and their inexpressive, unsmiling widower dad (Bob Burrus). The sudden possibility that they might lose the farm opens up a trove of disturbing family secrets, challenging Tully's heretofore shallow nature. Hilary Birmingham--who co-produced (with Anne Sundberg) and co-wrote the adaptation of Tom McNeal's story (with Matt Drake)--makes an impressive feature directorial debut with this rural drama. She gets first-rate performances from Mount and Julianne Nicholson (as the first smart girl Tully's ever fallen for), but it's Burrus who anchors the film, with a subtle, moving portrayal of a man whose repression of a deep emotional hurt must eventually relax and show the human being within. The ending is heavily telegraphed (in ways that should have plot consequences, but don't), and the resolution seems a little too neat for an otherwise realistic film, but these are minor quibbles.


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