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Blossom Time

Filmed in the late playwright's Mississippi hometown, "Blossom Time" is billed as an homage to the work of Tennessee Williams. But as modest "Glass Menagerie" echoes fade amid poorly worked-out melodramatics, debut helmer David Orr's pic accrues neither enough suspense nor character depth to support a simple story too slowly told. Attractively shot feature will serve best as a stepping stone, with minor cable prospects possible. Since their parents died (the father an apparent suicide) many years before, doe-like Francis (Laurel Holloman) has been stuck playing housemaid to her brothers --- eldest Hank, ill-tempered Jake, and dim-bulb Billie Paul. Latter three work at the mill, then raise routine Saturday night hell in town; Francis seldom strays farther than Sunday church services. Some hope is raised when her friend Amy introduces Dwight (Orr), a cousin visiting from Memphis. The two shyly hit it off. But the brothers seem to begrudge Francis even this small first step toward independence.

With:
Francis ..... Laurel Holloman Hank ..... Greg Farnese Billie ..... Paul Daniel Gavin Jake ..... Anthony Gavin Dwight ..... David Orr Lucy ..... Shannon Hile Amy ..... Michelle Bronson

Just why is unclear, since Hank early on mentions that the “boys” ought to encourage Francis’ finding a fella. Eventually, via routine flashbacks, it’s revealed that some suspicion is justified — amiable Dwight is indeed hiding some past “trouble.” This revelation leads to a crudely managed violent standoff, murky discussion of the dead father’s real fate and a pat resolution wherein now-purposeful Francis leaves the suffocating nest.

Despite decent perfs, Anthony Gavin’s screenplay doesn’t lend characters much in the way of fleshed-out personality traits or motivations, and dialogue ranges from the plain to the poetically pretentious. Pokey progress is exacerbated by attenuated scene pacing and some sequences that serve little purpose beyond making room for overamped rock and gospel songs on the soundtrack. Production design aims for a timeless feel, with good use of rural locations, which Kurt Brabbee’s lensing bathes in a warm glow.

Blossom Time

Production: A Possumtown Pictures presentation. Produced by David Orr, Daniel Gavin, Anthony Gavin. Directed by David Orr. Screenplay, Anthony Gavin.

Crew: Camera (color), Kurt Brabbee; editors, Peter Lonsdale, Jim Settlemoir; music, Steve Edwards; art direction, Orville Dane; associate producers, Vince Palomino, Cathy Miller. Reviewed on videocassette, San Francisco, Jan. 10, 1997. (In Cinequest, San Jose Film Festival.) Running time: 107 MIN.

With: Francis ..... Laurel Holloman Hank ..... Greg Farnese Billie ..... Paul Daniel Gavin Jake ..... Anthony Gavin Dwight ..... David Orr Lucy ..... Shannon Hile Amy ..... Michelle Bronson

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