MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: -1

Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow) is the first woman Jackson (Johnathon Schaech) has ever brought home to meet his mother, Martha (Jessica Lange). But Helen is surprised to learn that Jackson's home is a large horse breeding estate in Virginia. When Helen gets pregnant, she and Jackson marry at the estate, where Helen meets his grandmother Alice (Nina Foch), who warns the new bride about Martha's controlling ways. After returning to New York, Helen is attacked by a mugger who Helen later realizes is part of Martha's scheme to control. Helen and Jackson move to the farm to help his mother fix it up so she can sell it. There Helen sees that Martha dominates everything, including Jackson. Helen has a growing fear of Martha's plan to even control their unborn child. But how can she convince Jackson his mother is evil? This somewhat predictable suspense plot allows the actors to demonstrate their character's strengths, particularly the women. But the ending is too long in coming.

Although Jackson and Helen live together before marriage and pre-marital sex is implied, they choose to marry when Helen learns she's pregnant. She's supportive when Jackson reveals his responsibilty in his father's death and encourages his going to the farm to "face the ghosts." Martha is a manipulative schemer who uses her charm, innuendo and sometimes direct threats as she twists truths and lies together to orchestrate life around her. It's implied she killed Jackson's father and she attempts to kill Helen with a lethal injection. Religion is subtly mocked as Jackson refers to Helen sleeping in a separate room as a "Catholic thing." The grandmother also makes a comment about the nuns loving a fetus, implying she doesn't agree with anti-abortionists. Chain-smoking, heavy drinking Martha prays and quotes the Bible in an empty confessional booth, but it seems more like she's trying to manipulate God. Although a bloody childbirth scene is somewhat graphic, violence is neither gratuitous nor gory. However, objectionable language include five obscenities and frequent uses of God's name for exclamations, as well as a few moderate crudities. HUSH is the correct word for the foul language.

Preview Reviewer: Paul Bicking
Tri-Star Pictures, 9000 Sunset Blvd #711, Los Angeles CA 9006

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: Several (10) times--Mild 7, Moderate 3

Obscene Language: Several (5) times (f-word 1, s-word 4)

Profanity: Many (18) times --Regular 4 (G-d, G 2,C-sake), Exclamatory 14

Violence: Few times--Moderate (shoving, knife threat/cut, needle injected in arm, hard slap)

Sex: Implied once (couple begins to undress each other)

Nudity: None, near nudity few times (woman's bare back shown, woman in sudsy bath)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (woman waits in man's bed, sensual kissing, birth control device shown)

Drugs: Chain smoking, heavy drinking woman, drug put in dessert, attempt to overdose woman with morphine

Other: Graphic vomiting and childbirth; couple lives together before marriage, couple marries when woman pregnant, dead rats fall out of attic door; disparaging comments about religion; woman prays and quotes from Bible book of Ruth

Running Time: 90 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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