Ethan Frome

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +1 1/2

Content: +3

ETHAN FROME opens with a train puffing through a beautiful stretch of snow covered New England countryside in the mid 1800's. If the story were as inspiring as its many breathtaking snowscapes, ETHAN FROME would be a rare treat. Instead, is a very bleak morality play of two people who become uncontrollably involved in a passionate, but discreetly portrayed, adulterous affair. And it all ends in stark tragedy. The two unfortunate lovers are Ethan Frome (Liam Neeson), a simple but kind Vermont farmer, and a fun loving, girlish young woman, Mattie (Patricia Arquette). Mattie comes to live with Ethan and his ailing wife, Zeena (Joan Allen). While Mattie cares for the sickly Zeena, she and Ethan are inextricably drawn to each other and first give way to their desires one evening while Zeena is away on a trip. If this attraction had taken place in modern times, a divorce would have been pursued, but not in nineteenth century rural New England. So Ethan and Mattie painfully resign themselves to separation while even more misfortune is in store for them. Undeniably, ETHAN FROME is a superbly crafted, classic drama with fine performances and visually stunning scenery. It has its happy moments, but could well prove depressing for most viewers. However, the presence of a compassionate Protestant minister who is concerned about Ethan and his woes adds warmth and appeal to the story.

Sexual encounters between Ethan and Mattie are implied twice in passionate kissing scenes, but the camera cuts away before the lovers follow through. Further, Ethan and Mattie exchange impassioned glances almost from their first meeting. Otherwise, the film contains no explicit sexual content or dialogue. Appropriately, it is devoid of any offensive language or profanity. These are simple folk who live their lives quietly and sacrificially. The story poses the question whether Ethan and Mattie deserve their tragic misfortunes, but leaves the answer to its viewers. Even though Ethan tries to remain true to his afflicted wife, his feelings for Mattie overwhelm him. It is particularly disappointing that this film, which has so many admirable qualities, turns out to be so dreary and melancholy.

Preview Reviewer: John Evans
Miramax Films, 18 E. 48th St., Suite 1601, NY, NY 10017

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: None

Violence: Once - Mild (a mostly obscured sleighing accident and injuries)

Sex: Implied twice in kissing scenes with fully clothed lovers

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several times (impassioned glances and embracing)

Drugs: None

Other: None

Running Time:
Intended Audience:

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