Academy Awards 1984 -
Best Original Screenplay: Robert Benton
New York Times - 09/29/1984
"...Full of wonder and longing and love....Each member of the large cast is fine..."
New York Times - 12/30/1984
Included in The New York Times "10 BEST FILMS OF 1984"
Variety - 09/19/1984
"...A loving, reflective homage....Flawlessly crafted, Benton creates a full tapestry of life in Waxahachie, Texas circa 1935..."
Premiere - 09/01/2005
"[G]reatly enhanced by Malkovich's astringent portrayal of a blind boarder."
Set during the Great Depression in Waxachie, Texas, director Robert Benton's hometown, PLACES IN THE HEART stars Sally Field as Edna Spalding. After her husband is accidentally shot and killed by a drunk, Edna, the mother of two, has no means of support, and the $240 mortgage on her 40 acres of property is in danger of imminent foreclosure. Frightened at first, the spunky woman vows never to sell the farm and contemplates the possibility of planting a cotton crop to raise the money, the only drawback being she has never planted cotton in her life. But fortune appears in the person of Moze (Danny Glover), an African American migrant laborer who knows all there is to know about growing cotton. In order to make ends meet, Edna also decides to take in the blind Mr. Will (John Malkovich) as a boarder. As she takes over financial affairs previously handled by her husband, the proud woman must weather the amused contempt of the town's businessmen, who fully expect to see her fail. Slowly, the oddly-assorted members of Edna's new ménage begin to form ties, which become a necessity when the local Klan chapter pays Moze a visit. Field heads an exceptional cast with a powerful yet restrained performance (which gave way to a famously unrestrained exhibition on Oscar night, when she accepted the Academy Award for Best Actress by exclaiming to the audience, "You like me!"). Based on an actual incident in Benton's family, the film avoids sentimentality while invoking the religious spirit behind a bonding of the vulnerable who find strength in unity.
Acclaimed by critics all over the country and boasting an Academy Award(r)-winning performance by Sally Field, PLACES IN THE HEART is a landmark film. Its emotionally gripping story centers around EdnaSpalding (Field) and her unending struggle against extraordinary hardships. But, as recalled from director-writer Robert Benton's own childhood, it's also a portrait of a time and a place and a people. It is the 1930s in Waxahachie, Texas. Against this Depression-torn background, unforgettable characters meet and collide. Like Mr. Will (John Malkovich), the blind boarder who sees all too clearly the bigotry of his time, Moze (Danny Glover), a black man who knows a lot, including his own place in a white Southern town, and Wayne (Ed Harris), Margaret (Lindsay Crouse) and Viola (Amy Madigan), decent people caught up in an adulterous triangle which threatens two marriages. Together they leave an indelible impression of faith, courage, love and, most of all, endurance.
A woman and her two children struggle to survive in a small town in Texas during the Depression.