When 11-year-old Gitty (Peyton Kennedy) discovers that her beloved father is hiding a wealthy man (Richard Schiff) in her family's silo in order to save their struggling farm, she is forced to choose between saving the man's life or protecting her family from the consequences of their actions. The "fable" of the title is the film's explicit parallel between Gitty and the story of the lion and the mouse. When the mouse sees that the lion is in trouble (perhaps from a thorn in his foot), the mouse does the seemingly right thing and aids the lion. But what is the outcome? Is the lion grateful or does he turn around and devour the tasty morsel? This is the problem facing Gitty: she wants to do the right thing, but is it worth the unknown outcome? With its blend of fantasy and the pastoral, "American Fable" might call to mind other films such as "Pan's Labyrinth" or even "The Reflecting Skin". The latter would be unfair, but the former is a good touchstone. While the fantasy in "Fable" is relatively mild -- more dream than altered reality -- it does feature a strong-willed young girl in a perilous world. And, for the record, Peyton Kennedy excels in this role, really carrying the weight of the entire film on her shoulders successfully. Speaking of the pastoral setting, credit must be given to the filmmakers for their location choices. Certainly you could replicate a Wisconsin farm in California or elsewhere, but actually filming in Wisconsin and Illinois captured the authentic nature of the Midwest. And the inclusion of the House on the Rock was brilliantly conceived. Anyone from the Midwest should instantly recognize the Infinity Room and the World's Largest Carousel, both of which double effectively as a dream sequence. Veteran actor Richard Schiff balances with Kennedy quite well and plays an excellent "lion". Viewers will be kept guessing if he really intends to keep his promises or if he will say anything just to survive. Kip Pardue's acting is the weak point of the film. Whether it is him or the script, he often seems out of place. Which leaves Gavin MacIntosh. His character, Martin, is impossible to love, coming across very much like a budding sociopath. MacIntosh's portrayal is therefore excellent -- he creates an uneasiness in the viewer that shows a real mastery of the character. As the debut feature film for writer-director-producer Anne Hamilton, "American Fable" is a winner, pure and simple. Moviegoers ought to keep their eyes open for Hamilton's name on future projects; whether she ends up staying in the independent film world or moves on to bigger studio projects, she exhibits world-class skill and imagination that we should hope to see more of. The home video release from IFC Midnight has a few small perks. There are deleted scenes that may add a little something for audience members who cannot quite get enough of this family. Sadly, there is no audio commentary or in-depth interview with Hamilton. Perhaps keeping some aspects shrouded in mystery is for the best, but it would have been nice to hear some thoughts on the writing, casting, funding and other topics from the auteur.
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After 11-year-old Gitty discovers a man who can grant wishes hiding in her family's silo, she is forced to choose between saving the man's life and protecting her family.
April 30, 2021