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Empire Falls 2005

A decaying New England town is the backdrop for its unique citizens, lead by unassuming restaurant manager Miles Roby...

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Imdb rating: 7.5



Empire Falls: 8/10

Hey All,
While I've been waiting for my next rentals to show up in my mail, I caught this HBO movie called; "Empire Falls". The build up for this movie seems better than it was. It fell short in a couple of areas. Over all I thought it kept the audience entertained. "Empire Falls" is based on a novel by the same name by an author named Richard Russo. I want to read the novel sometime because the movie didn't explain a few areas. I'm not sure if was an editing issue or if it was due to time but it left the audience (or at least me) with a lot of questions. "Empire Falls" had an all star cast which included Paul Newman, Ed Harris, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Joanne Woodward, Robin Wright Penn, and many others who brought this script to life. Even though the cast did an amazing job and the script was good but it left me wondering too much. I felt my self getting lost in between the flash backs and present day issues. There were a lot of issues that were left unsolved by the end of the movie. "Empire Falls" is about this single father who runs a diner in a small town. As this father is trying to resolve present day issues he is also haunted by the past. There are many other issues that are plaguing this small community that the father ends up resolving in one way or another. I would suggest this movie to any one because they might get some of things that were brought up in the movie that I didn't get. I will definitely read the novel. I got a feeling that some novels should not be made in to movies and this might be one of them. I saw this on HBO, so I'm not sure if the DVD will have any bonus features because it hasn't came out yet. Please see what you think.
Fritz ;)
So many "made for TV movies" are corny, predicatable and melodramatic, but this was very well done. This is a drama set in an economically struggling town in Maine. It resembles some "epic" novels which contain historical settings, family feuds, romance, tradegy, etc, etc. Paul Newman, Ed Harris and Philip Seymour Hoffman were great.
Empire Falls (2005) -- "You can train your mind and you can learn from experience; that's what growing up is. And you can take responsibility for your actions, but you can't make your heart behave. You will love who you love; don't ever apologize for that." -- Miles Roby

Empire Falls is the beautifully rendered two-episode HBO series of Richard Russo's Pulitzer prize-winning novel of a small, decaying upper northwest community and the people who live in it. The movie, directed by Fred Schepisi, sports a star-studded cast including the incomparable Paul Newman as Miles' dead-beat dad. Excellent television - the series is available through Netflix.
It’s wonderfully crafted films like Empire Falls that keep American cinema alive. It’s not a movie, it’s a film, it’s artful cinema. And why it went relatively unheard of with such a powerhouse cast and brilliant storytelling is beyond the scope of this reviewer’s imagination.

Empire Falls is a small mill town well past its heyday but still retains it’s New England charm that could keep a photographer busy for months. Empire Falls, where everyone knows everyone, deals with its inhabitants with focus put on Miles Roby a shy passive man who’s afraid to take chances. He is gracefully played by Ed Harris, who can play just any type of role and play it perfectly. Miles is haunted by his past, by his mother trying to make a better life for her kids despite his deadbeat dad, her love affair with a rich man whose widow torment’s Miles to this day. He has a daughter, Tick, of angelic beauty who also has her own troubled teenage life to deal with in the ultimate level of Hell, High School and an ex-boyfriend with violent behavior. You can see the complexity of the story that will unfold.

Miles only wants to do his best for him and his daughter and tries to keep everyone happy, even if this means being nice to the man who’s about to marry his ex-wife. Janine, uneducated, unskilled in matters of life and still in love with her ex-husband. She’s brought to life by Helen Hunt who seems perfect for this role. Meanwhile Mile’s father Max is always on the lookout for handouts, up the minor mischief and suffers from a Hemingway complex. Such is his nature, as he has been in and out of jails all his life. Max is played brilliantly by Paul Newman and by brilliantly I mean The Verdict brilliant.

Miles’ dream is to expand his diner, the Empire Grill, into a more upscale restaurant with the help of his culinary inclined brother David, played here by Aidan Quinn with relish though his low-profile role is a bit under the radar. To do this Miles must get a liquor license for the restaurant. But you see, he’s not the owner, the old widow Mrs Whitting is and she’s been dangling carrots in front of Miles’ eyes all his life. Payback for her husbands infidelities with Mile’s mother. She owns the town and pretty much everybody in it.

When this fails, Miles gets together with his brother and the bar owner of Callahan’s team up to soup up her bar into a dining establishment. To accomplish this they need a bank loan. Guess who’s on the board of directors? So of course this new blow pushes Miles over the edge and he finally quits being everyone’s welcome matt.

There’s much more going on in this film but telling would deprive the viewer of the feast that is Empire Falls which ends in a little victory sure to please anyone whose ever been manipulated by folks with power and not much else.

The cinematography in this feature is just fantastic. They seem to always get the perfect shot, the perfect angle, the perfect atmosphere for the scene. Everything about the look and feel of this film is a propos. You want to live there just for the scenery. The score just matches the scenery seamlessly.

The acting in this character study is Oscar perfect. Paul Newman, Ed Harris, Aidan Quinn, Helen Hunt, Phillip Seymour Hoffman not playing a gay man, Joanne Woodward as the old widow has such elegance and poise it almost feels wrong to hate her character. Dennis Farina plays the gym-owning wife stealing Walt with just enough greasiness to keep him semi-likable. Theresa Russell is unrecognizable and plays the flirtatious waitress at the Grill and former crush of Miles but now she’s with his brothers who both think Miles is unaware. Robin Wright Penn plays Mile’s mother in the flashbacks that haunt Miles. And Max’s younger persona is played by Josh Lucas who has to act like Paul Newman acts; which is no small feat. Not to forget the unknown Matt Blumm who plays a 20 year old Miles and has the same brow and lower lip as Ed Harris, the resemblance is, kinda freaky.

Empire Falls is brought to life with brilliant acting, superb cinematography and a true American story of love, hardship and fighting the rapids to swim to shore. Leaves the viewer wondering why more great movies like this aren’t made more often.

A 5 outta 5
"Empire Falls" starts with Miles Roby(Ed Harris), the manager of the Empire Grill in economically depressed Empire Falls, Maine(The town's main employer, the mills, closed years before), having just returned from his annual vacation in Martha's Vineyard with his daughter, Tick(Danielle Panabaker), only to find his ne'er-do-well father(Paul Newman) trying to hotwire his car. Miles' ex-wife, Janine(Helen Hunt), is about to marry Walt Comeau(Dennis Farina), the owner of a local fitness emporium. Miles has managed the restaurant for the last twenty-five years on behalf of Francine Whiting(Joanne Woodward) and assumes he will be granted ownership on the event of her death.(The Whiting family does not own Empire Falls, "only what is important.")

An HBO miniseries, based on the novel by Richard Russo, "Empire Falls" is about living in a small town, especially one that is poor, and how it is especially hard to escape the past living there. A great cast including Robin Wright Penn and Philip Seymour Hoffman in the flashbacks and Theresa Russell playing a waitress do not stick out but instead lend authenticity to the material. The miniseries avoids giving in to sentimentality and quirkiness for most of its length but the climax is loudly contrived and it is ten minutes too long in mistakenly trying to wrap everything up too neatly. Despite its length and ambitions, it does not amount to much.
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