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Blue Ridge Fall

1 rating: 1.0
A movie directed by James Rowe

Small town High School best buddies are not about to let each other down. So when his pal Aaron commits a serious crime, Jefferson Creek, North Carolina's star quarterback, Danny, rounds up the rest of the crew to cover for their friend. The more … see full wiki

Cast: Amy Irving
Director: James Rowe
Release Date: 1999
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Blue Ridge Fall

Blue Ridge Fall – 1999

  • May 29, 2002
Pros: tight acting, nice scenery

Cons: some slow points

The Bottom Line: Shows just what abuse can do to everyone that it touches

There are all forms of abuse – physical, emotional, sexual. The sad thing about this movie is not the murder(s) or the coverup(s) but the ignorance of a town that turns its back on the obvious crimes being committed, even when they are dumped on their door stoop. It’s a small town, Jefferson Creek, North Carolina, in the fall of the year. The trees are blazing their myriad of colors, the air carries that decided chill, football heroes are glorified with their futures before them.

Reminiscent of Stand By Me, we have a rag-tag group of young men, who have been long time friends but aren’t necessarily good for each other. All star quarterback, Danny Shepherd (Peter Fancielli) seems to be the smart one in the group. Grounded, good-looking, being scouted by all the big schools, dating the town deputies sister – basically a good guy with a good head on his shoulders.

Then we have his small core of friends:

Shane (Jay R. Ferguson) who is the town bad boy, a little bit older than the rest of the group, he has done a short stint at Craggy Prison for some infraction. Not necessarily a bad guy, but a little jaded. Underneath he has a good heart, he has just made some bad choices or bad choices were made for him.

Taz (Will Estes) seems to be one of the sheep that follows the herd. No bad boy, no athlete, no scholar, just a friend that will stand at your side, no matter the consequences.

Gil (Garvin Funches) is the all star running back on the football team. His future seems pretty bright as well, but Gil has a little problem. He’s an outspoken black man/boy in a part of the South that still sometimes forgets that Lincoln was around a few years back. You just gotta know if there is trouble in town, Gil is gonna catch the brunt of it – especially when he is heard threatening his employer, who just happens to wind up buried in his own barn, after the employer refuses to pay him for two weeks work.

And finally, Aaron (Rodney Eastman) is actually the one the story centers around. Aaron is a little simple minded, a sweet boy and friendly as can be, but a little slow. He lives in a run-down house on the outskirts of town being lorded over by his religious zealot father, Walter (Tom Arnold), the town mechanic, and his simpering mouse of a mother, Ellie (Amy Irving).

As with most challenged people, it seems they generally have some hidden talent they excel in – Aaron is an artist. His drawings speak volumes that his muddled brain never could. In fact, it is his drawings that become his undoing.

Similar in feel to A Little Secret, tragedy occurs and the group of boys come together to protect their fallen compatriot, Aaron. Of course, once more than one person knows a secret it gets harder and harder to maintain the secrecy. And as lies generally do, a small snowball soon becomes an avalanche as the boys try unsuccessfully to hide the crime(s) it gets more and more out of hand. Eventually, Gil gets accused of the murder(s) and now our guys are faced with a much more difficult reality.

Do they come forward and confess? Does Danny run the risk of losing his future in football and college? Shane naturally is facing prison again and Taz is just confused. Now they do have the backing of the town deputy, Emerson (Chris Isaak) because Danny is dating his sister, but as Emerson says – “I always treated you like brothers because you seemed that way. But you ain’t no kin.” Emerson, because of his own morals, must do his job.

But what was his job? Danny confronts him with the truth when he tells him that not only he but the entire town has ignored the abuse that Walter has metered out to his family for years and that the true crime here is not the death(s) but the ignorance of the town. The true crime is the neglect of the child/boy/young man and his mother in a town that refuses to see that the low-life slime should be taken off the face of the Earth.

This appeared to be a tightly acted drama that is based on true dedication of friendship. A small but decent group of actors provides a remarkable performance that has you pulling for them all the way. For once Tom Arnold is in a role that doesn’t feel like someone is flaying the skin off your corpse. Not that he was likeable in this, no way at all, but he didn’t act like some ridiculous Jim Carrey wanna be. He gave almost a solid performance, even if he was a scum bucket in this movie.

More surprising, I didn’t even recognize Amy Irving until the credits. You would understand if you saw the movie since most of the time she is either in bandages, scratched face, blacked eyes, etc. Did she portray the typical abused woman that becomes dependent on her abuse? Most definitely. The group of young men did an outstanding job, except I thought Taz was a bit wishy-washy.

The scenery was wonderfully done with some dramatic shots of the fall foliage reflecting on the lake, some great night scenes and some decent panoramas. For the most part, cinematography was crisp with good color saturation and definition. No notable soundtrack for the movie.

A worthy watch, kind of like a What’s Eating Gilbert Grape meets Stand By Me and has a dirty Little Secret. Written and directed by James Rowe.



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