Combine a large helping of Jane Smiley's Pulitzer prize-winning novel (also titled Thousand Acres), the premise of Shakespeare's King Lear, and a big slice of rural Americana in a bubbling kettle of family dysfunction, feminism,… More Combine a large helping of Jane Smiley's Pulitzer prize-winning novel (also titled Thousand Acres), the premise of Shakespeare's King Lear, and a big slice of rural Americana in a bubbling kettle of family dysfunction, feminism, dark secrets, disease, betrayal, adultery and raging emotions. Stir in an all-star cast headed by Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jason Robards, and the result is this drama from Australian director Jocelyn Moorhouse (Proof and How to Make an American Quilt) and scriptwriterLaura Jones (best known for collaborating with Jane Campion). Like his father and grandfather before him, aging farmer Larry Cook (Robards) is the master of a 1000-acre farm in one of Iowa's most fertile regions. The widower has three middle-aged daughters, two of whom run nearby farms while the third is a lawyer. The story is told by the eldest sister Ginny (Lange) and begins when her father unexpectedly announces his plan to divide his land amongst the sisters. The forthright youngest sister Caroline (Leigh) voices her doubts to Larry who in a rage of wounded pride cuts her out of the bargain, leaving Ginny and hot-tempered middle sister Rose (Pffeifer) (who has just undergone a radical mastectomy) to run the farm. The new venture has detrimental effects on both of their marriages. Meanwhile, Larry grows increasingly erratic. At the story's half-way point, Rose reveals a painful secret about her relationship with their Daddy, one that threatens to tear both herself and Ginny, who heretofore has idolized her father, apart.
Consensus: A Thousand Acres makes disappointingly sudsy stuff out of the source material, but benefits from solid performances by a strong cast.