The Simple Life Of Noah Dearborn

1999, Movie, PG, 87 mins

Review

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In Twin Pines, Georgia, senior citizen Noah Dearborn (Sidney Poitier) is regarded as a Good Samaritan and local hero. Since the death of his beloved Uncle Silas (Bernie Casey), Noah has lived only for and through his work as a master carpenter, but while Noah's single-minded pursuit of his craft has kept him youthful-looking, it's also resulted in an evident psychological insularity. Although Noah is content to let progress pass him by, land developer Christian Nelson (George Newbern) covets his farmland. Even after his business partner falls under Noah's spell, Christian persuades his lover, Dr. Valerie Crane (Mary Louis Parker), a psychiatrist, to help him have Noah declared incompetent. Instead, Valerie grows to admire Noah and tries to coax him out of his isolation. Jeopardizing her relationship with Christian, Valerie rescues Noah from a trumped-up confinement in the state mental hospital. Can landowner Noah prevail against the corporate interests that regard him as a dinosaur? In the process of fighting back, can he unbend from his rigid patterns and bond with others? Everything old seems new again in this low-key drama about the dignity of labor and the importance of reaching out to others. Focusing on a loner whose perceptions of reality don't mesh with the norm, this contemporary fable emerges as both a paean to hand-crafted skills and to Poitier's undiminished dramatic talents. Faced with a daunting, sometimes non-verbal task, he gifts viewers with a glorious piece of acting fueled by the subtlest of vocal inflections and facial expressions. Transcending the superficial strictures of TV problem dramas, this psychologically dense and uncommonly well-acted character study revels in its protagonist's emotional rebirth, while striking a much-needed blow against the Wal-Marting of America. leave a comment --Robert Pardi

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