A Map of the World

Director: Scott Elliott

Screenwriters Polly Platt (producer of Broadcast News) and Peter Hedges (screenwriter of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?) do an admirable job of adapting Jane Hamilton’s emotionally overwhelming novel for the big screen. A Map of the World, which won the Best Independent Picture Award from the National Board of Review features Siguorney Weaver (Golden Globe nominated for her performance) as Alice, a hardworking school nurse who ends her school year just as the film begins and afterwards spends her time keeping house for her aspiring, well-meaning, but weak farmer husband David Strathairn and her two daughters including her tantrum-prone and extraordinarily challenging eldest girl Lucy. When looking after the daughters of her best friend Theresa (Julianne Moore who earned awards and nominations for her work), Alice gets distracted and one of her neighbor’s girls tragically drowns in the pond on her property. In the aftermath of this devastating tragedy, Alice is arrested after being accused of sexual abuse and misconduct from a troubled student and his neglectful, promiscuous mother (Chloe Sevigny). The subject matter of the film, which is at times incredibly depressing and not given any real boost from the abrasive and far too cynical character of Alice (who, although going through post-trauma seems far too joking to be considered realistic and we find ourselves longing for some of the novel’s back-story in helping to explain her motivations), is outweighed by the powerful performances and worthy themes of the power of love and friendship and just how much one can forgive in the face of such a shocking accident.