The Trip To Bountiful


Reviewed by: Emma Slawinski

Horton Foote's adaptation of his own play - he wrote the screenplay for To Kill A Mockingbird and Gary Sinise's (1992) Of Mice And Men - achieves the transition from stage to screen incompletely.

This classic piece of American nostalgia is set in Houston, Texas, in the Fifties. Elderly and scatterbrained, but still surprisingly canny, Carrie Watts (Geraldine Page) shares a cramped apartment with her only son Ludie (John Heard) and her mouthy and domineering daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae (Carlin Glynn).

It's 20 years since she was separated from her roots in the poor country town of Bountiful and she has dreamt of going back ever since. After a number of foiled attempts to escape from the house, she finally succeeds and on the bus to Bountiful shares her life story with fellow traveller Thelma (Rebecca De Mornay). The ride brings back good and painful memories, crystallising all Carrie's disappointments, and the return to Bountiful holds further unhappy surprises for her. However, there's also the possibility that, once it's accomplished, she may be able to move on and help restore the life that she, Ludie and Jessie Mae share.

Foote's script is intelligent and well paced, and incorporates the great Southern American tradition of storytelling and family histories, as well as its sassy and biting humour. The cast are also well chosen, and do justice to the quick-fire repartee. Page's portrayal of a complex character is remarkably subtle and inventive and it's easy to see why she carried away an Oscar for Best Actress. Her range of moods and emotions is vast, now vague, now wilful, sometimes tired and spent, at others summoning up the coquettish energy of a young girl.

However, once the punchy opening scenes in the Houston apartment give way to the slower, more sentimental treatment of Carrie's journey, the film begins to drag a little.

The Trip To Bountiful still enjoys regular performances on stage all over America and perhaps that is where it should have stayed. As a movie it doesn't rival other memorable depictions of the Deep South, such as Mockingbird and Driving Miss Daisy.

Reviewed on: 28 Feb 2005
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The Trip To Bountiful packshot
A sassy lady from Houston takes a bus ride back to her old home town, with surprising results.
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Director: Peter Masterson

Writer: Horton Foote, based on the play by Horton Foote

Starring: Geraldine Page, John Heard, Carlin Glynn, Rebecca De Mornay, Richard Bradford, Kevin Cooney

Year: 1985

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: US


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To Kill A Mockingbird