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Worth A Look: 28%
Just Average: 4%
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2 reviews, 13 user ratings

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Ulee's Gold
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by Slyder

"A minor classic, but still profound and meaningful."
5 stars

Finally, after many years doing shitty roles, Peter Fonda finally manages to get ahold of a part that finally suits his style. Ulee’s Gold is a remarkable film that deals with issues in everyday life on families that are at their lowest point. Director Victor Nuñez manages to pack an interestingly and surprisingly well-made film that manages to get your attention from start to finish.

The film is the story of Ulysses “Ulee” Jackson (Fonda), a quiet and reclusive beekeeper who has had a life of hell. He has a long-lasting knee injury due to a tour in Vietnam, his wife died 6 years ago, his son Jimmy (Tom Wood) is in jail, he has to take care of is two granddaughters Penny (Vanessa Zima) and Casey (Jessica Biel), and even more, he receives a call from Jimmy that he has to go to Orlando to pick up his stoned wife Helen (Christine Dunford) who was picked up by two of Jimmy’s former friends, Eddie (Steve Flynn) and Ferris (Dewey Weber), who are thugs. But Eddie and Ferris have a surprise for him: They manage to find out through Helen’s stoniness that Jimmy has been hiding out a cash heist that dates back when they were robbers. Ulee, with no choice, accepts the task and stets off to find out where Jimmy hid the money, and at the same time he has to deal with the hardships of helping Helen kick out her drug habits with the help of a doctor called Connie Hope (Patricia Richardson), gain friendship with Casey, and work on his honey bee business.

The film is one of the many surprises that most Independent films can deliver. The story is simple, and it unfolds slowly taking its time. The pace is slow, but its never boring, since the film portrays realistically how life it is, and life is not always fast-paced. There’s also a reason why the film takes this cautious step of making it slow. That way the film has time to develop its characters and subplots and thanks to this you never miss a thing, you’re always aware what’s going on. Not a single character is wasted, not a single subplot is left without solving. If the film were to accelerate its pace many of the things that the film tries to explain is left for waste.

The film just portrays life at its roughest. We se how Ulee has to deal with so much shit that occurs around his family that would drive an ordinary man insane. But he doesn’t, he has seen far worse shit in Vietnam. He knows he has huge problems but he takes his time and manages to solve him with great patience. There are a few metaphors that come around, mainly on the bees that Ulee is raising, compare his care for the bees and the care for his family, and you can notice his love and care for his work and family.

From the beginning moments up to the climax of the film, Victor Nuñez manages to slowly build up the atmosphere’s tension bit by bit and never overdoes it, and also keeps the emotions low whenever it’s necessary and never provokes his actors to overact. He maintains the pace not only of the film, but also manages his actors to give the necessary emotion depending on the situation that the scene is depicting. One of the major errors on many dramas is that actors tend to overact and overdo their parts, which takes the realism off the film. However Nuñez only asks his actors for a certain amount of emotion depending on the scene and thanks to this the situations on the film are always believable.

Peter Fonda gives the performance of a lifetime as Ulee, a character that requires the utmost patience to portray him, since the complexities of this character make him a tough nut to portray. His performance can be compared with Anthony Hopkins’ role of Stevens in The Remains of the Day, they’re both complex and tough characters to portray, and they’re both performed magnificently. The rest of the supporting cast was great and fit their roles perfectly, but mainly, this was Peter Fonda’s show, and he steals every scene he’s in, no, he steals the whole movie.

In the end, I recommend this little gem. It really gives a valuable lesson in life and also boasts some great filmmaking. Peter Fonda is the main highlight in this film, I never seen a more needed career like his to have this opportunity to be reborn again. Overall despite a slow pace, the film rocks, and whether you’re a fan of drama or a fan of indie films, or simply a fan of great filmmaking, go see it; it’s worth the view. (4.5-5)

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=340&reviewer=235
originally posted: 08/23/01 15:36:10
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User Comments

6/22/03 Jack Sommersby Pretty good, but criminal subplot undermines it. Fonda excellently underplays. 4 stars
2/04/03 scott A GREAT FILM 5 stars
9/03/01 the Grinch A very Zen movie. Dunno why exactly, but I liked this one enough... 4 stars
7/07/01 R.W. Welch A solid real world pic -- and you learn a lot aout bees 4 stars
9/25/00 Terrie Smith A quiet, rather laid-back film; Peter Fonda finally receiving a good script. 4 stars
12/01/99 Matt Thiel Suicide-inducing. Not as bad as "Crash" or "The Sweet Hereafter", the 2 worst films of '97 1 stars
2/01/99 Vick Di Brecci Eminently dull. I'd rather watch a two hour documentary on honey bees. Or Easy Rider II. 2 stars
12/15/98 Binky A solid movie, but didn't get as nasty as I'd have liked. 4 stars
11/30/98 Mr.Pink Beautiful movie. Shows that emotion and characterdevelopment are the best special effects. 5 stars
9/07/98 Young Einstein Fner. Boring. 3 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball Superb performance from Fonda = 5 stars from me. 5 stars
8/20/98 The Man With The Helmet Fonda never disappoints. 4 stars
8/16/98 {{{OZ}}} Peter Fonda tribute hour. Yeah, cool nuff. 4 stars
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  06-Jul-1997 (R)



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