Imagine, if you will, Hal Halbrook (“Into the Wild”) playing a That’s The Problem With Your Generation sort of old fellow named Abner. If that doesn’t get you excited about this movie, just stop reading. You’re must be a lost cause because that’s the definition of awesome. Seriously. One afternoon, Abner makes a break from the old folk’s home and bribes a cab driver to take him back to his Tennessee farm. When he arrives, another family is living on the property. There’s someone else living in his house and they aren’t strangers. They aren’t strangers and they aren’t friends either. As it turns out, Abner’s city slicker son has sold the farm right out from under him. His only option now is to move in to the nearby sharecropper’s shack and wait out the house-stealing hillbilly who has nabbed his land.
Halbrook absolutely nails the lead role of Mr. Abner Meecham, the headstrong farmer whose lips can’t form the words “give up.” The supporting cast is made up of a solid group of actors mostly known for their long stints on numerous television shows such as “The Shield” and “Deadwood.” Two performances stand out among the ensemble cast. The first is from the deeply talented Barry Corbin (“No Country for Old Men”) who plays Abner’s elderly friend Thurl and the second is from Mia Wasikowska, a young actress preparing to break into the mainstream by playing the titular role in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.” But, as everyone knows, performers don’t often give great performances without anything to perform.
Writer-Director Scott Teems’ adaptation of William Gay’s short story “I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down” won the Emerging Narrative Screenplay Award at the IFP Market in 2006. A couple of years later, his honored script had been adapted into an impressive debut feature film. Armed with a camp of adept performers, a topnotch screenplay, and an accomplished Director of Photography (Rodney Taylor), Teems marched into to the beautiful Knoxville country and assembled a poignant film about standing up for yourself, especially if you’re standing up to a wife and child-beating redneck with awful facial hair and a hatred for man’s furry little friends.