The World Made Straight
Leonard (Noah Wyle) was smart enough to go off to college, and become a
schoolteacher somewhere else, but something happened that made his life go off
the rails. Something about getting
caught with drugs at the school. So
now he lives in a trailer in the woods, a small-time dope dealer, answering his
door with a shotgun in his hand. Inside,
though, are all his books, including family diaries from The Civil War.
Yes, the War Between the States came to visit this remote part of the
Travis (Jeremy Irvine), learning about one of his Civil War kinfolk, a 12-year-old boy, being shot by the creek for “Union sympathizing”, finds the boy’s glasses with a metal detector. He also thinks he feels the blood crying up to him from the ground (Genesis 4:10). Travis is an impetuous lad who didn’t finish school “because it didn’t interest him,” but got fired from his store clerk’s job for giving a cup of coffee to an old man who didn’t have enough money for one. Travis can’t get along with his angry, disciplinarian Dad, so he winds up staying with Leonard, who not only encourages his interest in reading, but also to study for his GED, and consider getting out of there and going to college. Travis has a couple of good-ol’-boy-buddies, but they usually get him drinking and generally misbehaving, which he can do well enough on his own.
There’s a subplot about Leonard also trying to rescue a pretty girl who’s fast becoming a druggie, but she complains that whenever he’s with her he’s still thinking about his wife (which he doesn’t even bother to deny). Leonard’s drug suppliers, not surprisingly, are a couple of local toughs who depend on intimidation to conduct their business, so they’re not exactly paragons of virtue, either.
In fact, there’s just not much here that’s appealing, which is the biggest problem of the movie itself. It’s all kind of sad, as if doomed to hopeless melancholy. Despite the beautiful pristine surroundings, the people are struggling to find any kind of beauty in their lives, and are almost predestined to fail.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Parish Associate, Woodhaven