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E.L. Doctorow's short story "Jolene" becomes a long, long movie under the direction of Dan Ireland.

With: Jessica Chastain, Frances Fisher, Rupert Friend, Dermot Mulroney, Zeb Newman, Denise Richards, Theresa Russell, Michael Vartan, Chazz Palminteri.

E.L. Doctorow’s short story “Jolene” becomes a long, long movie under the direction of Dan Ireland, whose exploitatively graphic showcase of young thesp Jessica Chastain bids to revive his starmaking skills a dozen years after his near-great debut, “The Whole Wide World,” introduced auds to Renee Zellweger. Just as pole-dancing Jolene’s survival of countless sleazy suitors leads her more or less safely to Hollywood, so the talented lead’s well-timed wrapping of Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life” should offset any damage of a homevid-caliber pic that likely won’t travel further than its preem at the Seattle fest, which Ireland co-founded.

Though stretched to a two-hour run time, Doctorow’s socially critical tale is reduced to queasy spectacle as Bryce Dallas Howard lookalike Chastain bares all opposite a slew of actors that includes Frances Fisher as the butch lesbian guard of a “juvenile looney bin.” End credits’ acknowledgment of a post-production supervisor and “additional writing” by “Kwik Stop” helmer Michael Gilio hint at a struggle the film itself makes plain, while publicist Mickey Cottrell’s cameo turn as a doctor unwittingly foreshadows the surgical work needed to revive pic’s rep.


Production: A Next Turn presentation of a Riva Yares production. (International sales: Intandem Films, London.) Produced by Yares, Zachary Matz. Directed by Dan Ireland. Screenplay, Dennis Yares, from the story "Jolene: A Life" by E.L. Doctorow.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Claudio Rocha; editor, Luis Colina; music, Harry Gregson-Williams; production designer, Bernt Amadeus Capra; art director, William Budge; set decorator, Nicole Lobart; costume designer, Gail McMullen. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 15, 2008. (In Seattle Film Festival -- Special Presentations.) Running time: 120 MIN.

With: With: Jessica Chastain, Frances Fisher, Rupert Friend, Dermot Mulroney, Zeb Newman, Denise Richards, Theresa Russell, Michael Vartan, Chazz Palminteri.

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