Ulee Jackson (played by Peter Fonda) is a reclusive beekeeper who lives in a rustic home in a tiny Florida town, where he raises his two granddaughters. As the victim of past hardships, he also is now the eldest member of a dysfunctional family; his son Jimmy is in prison, his daughter-in-law Helen is a runaway drug addict, his oldest granddaughter Casey is a rebellious teen, and her little sister Penny is a lonely young girl. Ulee is a loner, refusing the help and camaraderie of the local townsfolk. But one day, Jimmy calls Ulee and asks for a favor regarding Helen. Ulee then discovers that, by mustering up tremendous lost courage, he must bring his shattered family together and keep them safe from a pair of thugs.
Directed by Victor Nunez, this critically-acclaimed film wasn't seen much upon its 1997 release. "Ulee's Gold" is a very quiet film, and its unhurried pace and frequent dialogue will probably try the patience of just about anyone who watches it. It takes its time before diving into the storyline, and the viewer doesn't really get involved with the film until after the first half-hour. However, "Ulee's Gold" is ultimately a powerful and effective human drama that moves the soul in its own subtle way.
The film's greatest strength lies in the stirring performances, particularly that of Peter Fonda as the aloof but strong-willed Ulee. At first the viewer thinks of Ulee as just an estranged man who cares about nothing but his beekeeping business; but the character slowly works his way into the viewer's heart as the film progresses. Soon we get to realize how much the man cares for his family, and by the end of the film we are really cheering for him. Christine Dunford also gives a superb performance as Helen, and Patricia Richardson (of "Home Improvement" fame) is also convincing as Ulee's neighbor, the one townsperson whom he allows in on his situation.
Additionally, much of the plot of "Ulee's Gold" lies in the script, rather than through on-screen action; thus the viewer is never presented with overcalculated brutality. Even the tensest of scenes are played out like they would be in an everyday rural or suburban society, without big explosions or fistfights. The drawn-out dialogue gets a little tedious at times, but it makes the characters all the more believable. Throughout the film, these characters go through a lot of changes, especially Ulee. In the end, it is Ulee who has changed the most, having discovered that his "gold" is not just his rare Tupelo honey, but the even-more-precious family that he has fought so hard to protect.
"Ulee's Gold" may not be quite as involving as the more recent "In the Bedroom", but it's a great film for anyone who likes solidly told dramas. It was not aimed at a teenage audience, so anyone my age who happens to be reading this review will probably find it somewhat boring; however, there's a lot of good material in this film that shows profound thought in Nunez's part. See it if it interests you in any way.
Ulee's Gold is probably one of the most believable films of late it had all the elements of a good movie and put them all together and made a wonderful film. The story is that this man Ulee (Peter Fonda) is a beekeeper and his son who is in jail was married to a woman named Helen (Christine Dunford) who he must find and take care of however one of her biggest flaws is that she is drug addicted and her eldest daughter does not want to see her. Ulee had been taking care of Penny (Vanessa Zima) and Casey (Jessica Biel) since they were young but not into time for Casey to not be scared forever.
Can this broken family ever be the loving family that they once were or are they all forever scared. I would recommend this movie to everyone over the age of twelve because it does have a lot of language, drug content, and some violence other than that it is fine. I hope that this review has helped you in making a decision about this film.
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