‘Beneath the Harvest Sky’: a teenage slice of small-town life
A movie review of “Beneath the Harvest Sky,” a dour drama about two 17-year-old best friends (Emory Cohen, Callan McAuliffe) living in a fading agricultural town with not much of a future to look forward to.
The New York Times
‘Beneath the Harvest Sky,’ with Emory Cohen, Callan McAuliffe, Aidan Gillen, Zoe Levin, Sarah Sutherland, Timm Sharp. Written and directed by Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly. 116 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Sundance Cinemas.
The New York Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.
Geography is destiny. Even in the land of opportunity, the place where you are born and brought up has a lot to do with determining your future. And if that place is Van Buren, Maine, a fading agricultural town on the Canadian border, there is not much of a future to look forward to.
This is the dour world of “Beneath the Harvest Sky.” For teenagers unlucky enough to grow up there, the desire to leave is a driving force. But Boston, the nearest big city, might as well be on another planet.
Filmed in a quasidocumentary style using handheld cameras, extreme close-ups and a muddy palette, this slice of regional life aspires to be a northern New England answer to “The Last Picture Show.” Its protagonists — the cocky, hotheaded Casper (Emory Cohen) and the even-tempered Dominic (Callan McAuliffe), both 17 and best friends since childhood — face three choices: accept a lifetime of grueling, low-wage farm work; run drugs back and forth across the Canadian border; or flee.
Because Casper and Dominic’s relationship is the center of the movie, other key characters remain underdeveloped. Casper’s father, Clayton (Aidan Gillen), is a small-time crook who smuggles in Canadian pharmaceuticals. The operation is a family affair that involves Clayton’s brother (Timm Sharp), who is pressured by drug-enforcement agents to gather evidence against Clayton.
“Beneath the Harvest Sky” reaches a dramatic climax that is so confusing, you are left scratching your head. But for all its missteps, the film feels authentic.