January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

John Webb (Hume Cronyn) has been a farmer for many, many years now, but it’s getting harder with every passing year to keep forging ahead. He lost his wife of fifty-two years, he’s running out of money, and his old age seems to try and pull him away from his work. As the pressures mount on Webb, he looks inside himself and wonders just how much time he has left. As bad as things seem to be for him, they’re only getting worse as time passes by, with John forced to take out a loan to pay his taxes and his best friend moving away. His last friend, Grey (James Earl Jones) is preparing to move closer to his son, since he isn’t as spry as he used to be. With Grey leaving, John is left with only his nephews Gus and Carl for company, and they don’t care to spend much time with their uncle. When an oil company shows interest in John’s land, his nephews are quick to make their presences felt, since they own half the mineral rights to the land, thanks to their father. With the prospect of big money lurking on the horizon, greed is bound to show up, and it does, with everyone fighting over who should do what and get what.

When I saw that this film was written by Horton Foote, I expected a well written glimpse into real America, in this case, an independent farmer’s life. Now that I’ve seen the film, I have to say I am a little disappointed with the final result, and I am not sure where to place the blame for that. Foote’s writing here is good, but not up to his usual standards, although that doesn’t seem to be the sole reason the film fell short for me. The cast is also a talented lot who give good performances, but they too seem to come up short of my expectations. There are moments where the actors and the script shine through, but those moments are brief and infrequent. When gauged against other made for cable movies, this one looks better than the average, and is worth a watch for those who are interested in the storyline. This is a slowly paced film filled with simple folk dialogue, so those with short attention spans won’t be able to hack it to the end credits. I recommend a rental for those who love Foote’s work, or just like the story, but the disc is barebones, so if you care about extras, this isn’t for you.

This film was directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who has also directed a slew of television movies, such as Annie Oakley, Murder By Moonlight, and The Little Match Girl. Alone was written by Horton Foote, who is an excellent screenplay writer who knows how to create simple, yet complex characters. Other screenplays Foote has written include Tender Mercies, To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice And Men (1992), and Hurry Sundown. This movie has an impressive cast, especially for a made for cable flick, including some veterans who know how to light up the screen. The lead role is played by Hume Cronyn (The Pelican Brief, Brewster’s Millions), who has an extensive resume of superb performances, with this being one of them. This isn’t his finest work, but his subtle power comes through well, and he steals more a few scenes, to be sure. Also giving solid turns here are James Earl Jones (Field Of Dreams, Coming To America), Chris Cooper (October Sky, American Beauty), and Frederic Forest (The End of Violence, One Night Stand). The supporting cast includes Ed Begley, Jr. (Meet The Applegates), Shelley Duvall (Time Bandits, The Shining), and Piper Laurie (Carrie, The Rage: Carrie 2).

Video: How does it look?

Alone is presented in the original full frame aspect ratio, just as it was shown during it’s broadcast on cable. This image looks about like broadcast quality, though perhaps a little sharper at times. The colors seem bright, within a natural scope, and flesh tones look normal and without defect. The contrast levels are on the job too, with good shadow separation and high detail visible. The print shows some wear, more than you’d expect from a made for cable movie, but it’s not that bad. There is also some slight compression troubles, but again nothing to worry about.

Audio: How does it sound?

This release uses a 2.0 surround track, but you won’t notice a lot of activity outside of the dialogue. This is a slow moving and quiet film, so don’t expect audio dynamite out of this track. The dialogue comes through just fine, with no volume or separation issues to speak of. This isn’t a powerful track, but then again, it doesn’t need to be.

Supplements: What are the extras?

No film specific bonus materials were included, for some unknown reason.

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