This movie will garner 6-9 nominations including Best Picture, Best Director (Jonathan Demme), Best Screenplay Adaptation, and for acting: Oprah Winfrey (Sethe), Danny Glover (Paul D) Thandie Newton (Beloved), and Kimberly Elise (Denver).
The story is a combination of "Roots," "Shindler's List," "Poltergeist," and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" And you ask, "But, Larry H, how can that be?" Gotta see this one to believe it. I was at the noon showing at Loew's and the crowd was near 100. Screenplay is based on the novel by Toni Morrison and it must have been a doozy.
Winfrey plays Sethe who "walked" away from her slave beginnings in Kentucky. She made this walk over a 28 day period and was eight months pregnant and had no shoes. The pain and anguish that Sethe suffered were of Biblical proportions. When she made it to Ohio, her life was still under a cloud and death and sadness were near overwhelming. Sethe's human spirit and the will to survive and her "thick love" for her children is the fabric of this film. Sethe found some comfort in Paul D who was also from "Sweet Home" which was their name for the slave existence that they had survived. Sethe explained to Paul D that "...this ain't the good life, but it ain't the other." Sethe has an eighteen year old daughter that was born at the end of her "walk" and there is a mystery about her other children especially the one name "Beloved" that shows up to live with her. Is Beloved real or is she just a spirit? Is her presence to comfort Sethe or condemn her? Or torture her?
Glover and Winfrey have several passionate scenes where each tenderly caresses the numerous scars from the whip on the other's back. And those scenes are emotional lightweights compared to the overall movie of 172 minutes. This is heavy stuff with many flashbacks and subtle, yet powerful dialogue. Most of the movie takes place in Ohio after Sethe has left her "Sweet Home" and proudly resettled in her Ohio home that she described to Paul D as "... not evil, just sad."
Sometime the movie-going experience is not fun but is important to better understand humans, love, suffering, hatred, perseverance, betrayal, and deep foreboding grief. I am glad I saw this film, but it will be a while before I do it again. If ever. Rock 'n Roll.