An offer too good to be true… it just might be.
Main Street, is directed by John Doyle and written by the late Horton Foote. It stars Orlando Bloom (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Three Musketeers (2011)), Colin Firth (Bridget Jones Diary, The Kings Speech), Amber Tamblyn (127 Hours), Patricia Clarkson (Friends with Benefits), Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist, Requiem for a Dream), and Andrew McCartney (Pretty In Pink, The Spiderwick Chronicles) and follows residents in the town of Durham, North Carolina as they receive a stranger with a controversial plan to revive the town.
Main Street is acclaimed writer Horton Foote’s last screenplay. Foote, who passed in 2009, is known for stories set in small towns or rural communities where the characters are linked to a common issue and trying to find a common resolve. Here, everyone looks for a way out of Durham, and Gus Leroy (Firth) is there to provide them one. He rents an old tobacco warehouse owned by Ms. Georgiana Carr (Burstyn), which, unbeknownst to her, will house canisters of hazardous waste. Mr. Leroy must offer her a large amount of money because she immediately takes the money without concern for the intended use of her family’s warehouse. The exact amount, however, is never mentioned.
Mrs. Carr finds out from her niece, Willa, (Clarkson) that her warehouse is being used for hazardous waste storage. Confused as to what “hazardous waste” is, Mrs. Carr’s niece insists that she contact Mr. Leroy and say that she did not understand what he wanted to use the warehouse for, and that he needs to remove the canisters, thereby cancelling their agreement. Of course, Mrs. Carr cannot break the lease because nearly all of the money Mr. Leroy has given her to lease the warehouse, has been spent. Willa insists that her aunt contact the police about the canisters.
The plot does not develop any further from the concerns with Mrs. Carr. However, the others involved–like local cop/law student Harris Parker (Bloom)–are in similar circumstances. The town is in economic ruin and everyone, in their way, is trying to find a way out of it.
The story overall isn’t too difficult to follow; it’s just that you are bounced back and forth between events that end up feeling inconsistent somehow. The film isn’t without its tender moments—viewers do worry about whether or not Mrs. Carr will be able to keep her house, and if Harris and Mary will somehow rekindle their love for each other. But the intended drama appeal of the film just isn’t there. There is not enough interaction between the film’s key players, and many areas of the movie just feel empty. I would have liked to have seen more goings on between the film’s two younger characters, Harris and Mary. They behave at times as though they were strangers—just like two passing cars in the night.
Everything that occurs in the film feels shallow somehow, and it’s a shame because Main Street had all of the basic elements that would have made it truly, a great film. The blame does not fall on its all-star cast: with Burstyn–in her role as the elderly and worrisome Mrs. Carr–Clarkson, McCarthy, Bloom, and Firth–who seems to struggle a bit with his Texas drawl. The scenes could have handled more intensity–the scenes feel starved for more interaction between characters.
The Main Street DVD special features include “A Day Behind the Scenes of Main Street,” which features director John Doyle, along with the cast and crew, rehearsing and shooting a few of the scenes in the film. In addition, the features include a couple of deleted scenes, like one in which Amber Tamblyn’s Mary cries the night before she was to leave town; and Burstyn’s Mrs. Carr, crying on a swing. Both scenes were appropriately removed from the film. The features also include the theatrical trailer for the movie.
Overall, the film serves only as a “complement” of characters–all of whom had the unfortunate tendency for complacency modeled by the inability to rescue a town from financial decay. The story suffered only because of its inability to expand beyond that.