God's Country

Malle turns his gaze to the oft-trimmed lawns of “Le Middle West” in this surprisingly loving document of the rural United States, circa 1979 and 1985. Driving around Minnesota, Malle discovers the tiny community of Glencoe during its annual street fair, where its citizens dance to polka bands and the assistant chief of police is drinking heavily under a tent. As the residents tend to their gardens, play bingo, and demonstrate their lawn-mowing skills, Malle captures their views on life, society, and politics. Returning in 1985, he discovers a Glencoe suffering through Reaganomics and a rash of divorces, farm foreclosures, and broken dreams. “A quiet, sagacious document that serves as a slice of cultural and social history as well as a fascinating dramatic portrait,” wrote Derek Malcolm for the London Film Festival. In 2005, God's Country provides an essential time capsule of an idiosyncratic Middle America, its American Dream slightly bothered with post-Vietnam tremors and class struggles, but not yet buried under a wave of strip malls and chain stores.

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