The Fields (2011)

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Based on the personal recollections of writer Harrison Smith, The Fields is a very decent little film with some nice, atmospheric moments and a very good handle on just what it’s like to be a child still afraid of monsters under the bed yet fearless when caught up in some daytime adventure (be it in the titular fields themselves or just in a small battle between the usual cast of toys for boys – you know, Godzilla and dinosaurs).

Joshua Ormond is the small boy at the centre of things. He’s seen a troubling incident between his mother (Tara Reid) and father (Faust Chech0) before being taken to live with his grandparents (Cloris Leachman and Bev Appleton – both superb) for a while. Everything infuses the imagination and busy brain of this young lad – as it does with any child in real life. The movie is set at a time when Charles Manson is being discussed on the radio so that’s a worry, late night horror movies add some feeling of fear, strangers saing hello can unsetlle a child, and much more.

As mentioned above, The Fields gets those feelings from childhood just right. Not just the fear but also the curiosity and the awareness that adults never seem to consider. It’s sad but true to say that many of us have probably heard our parents arguing late at night when they thought we were sound asleep. Children know that they SHOULD be sleeping, and they try, but they get caught up in a conversation that they don’t full understand but that unsettles them, nonetheless.

Solid acting and some good dialogue, as well as a helping of humour here and there, add to the value of the film but the sad fact is that it ultimately leads nowhere. The characters don’t necessarily grow during the course of the movie, nothing major changes and the whle thing is nothing more than an episode from the life of a young boy. It’s a good episode but it’s still nothing more than that.

Writer Harrison Smith clearly has a great talent for recollecting his youth and putting it across in a way that others can easily identify with. Directors Tom Mattera and David Mazzoni do justice to the material, as do the cast members (especially Ormond, Leachman and Appleton), but there’s only so far that you can spin one spool of thread.

DIRECTOR: TOM MATTERA, DAVID MAZZONI
WRITER: HARRISON SMITH
STARS: JOSHUA ORMOND, CLORIS LEACHMAN, BEV APPLETON, TARA REID, FAUST CHECHO, BRIAN ANTHONY WILSON, KAREN LUDWIG, MILES WILLIAMS
RUNTIME: 99 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: USA

Film Rating: ★★★☆☆

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