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The Milagro Beanfield War Review

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Ladd Devine (Bradford) intends to build a new resort on the farms of Milagro, a small Deep South town. Initial opposition (led by Braga) is as weak as the pull of profitable jobs is strong for the local Hispanic community, but when an unrelated scandal involving water regulations is drawn into the argument, the whole town threatens to erupt into violence.

★★★★

Visually exquisite and utterly charming without being soppy, Robert Redford’s second film as director boasts an off-beat ensemble cast including John Heard, Melanie Griffith, Christopher Walken, Sonia Braga, singer Ruben Blades and a scene-stealing pig. A cheering comic fable about a rural Hispanic community fighting the evil forces of property development, rather long and slow to build, but full of delights including Oscar-winning music.

The lyricism of the film, and the observational humour cannot quite overcome the true suffering that is going on, and never really attempts to address it. This is a shrewd move by Redford, who’s second feature is happy to ask questions rather than seeks answers for them.

An assured, lower key follow up to Ordinary People that captures a sense of place just as well, but doesn't offer the actors as much to play with.