Thousand Acres, A1997

Jessica Lange and Michelle Pfeiffer are quietly dazzling in this underrated adaptation of Jane Smiley's best-selling modern version of King Lear. The two play sisters of a stubborn, alcoholic Iowa farmer (Jason Robards), who decides to leave his fertile farm to them and their youngest sister (Jennifer Jason Leigh). It is a decision that rends the family, setting siblings against one another and forcing long-held secrets out of their guilty closets. The family dynamics become ever more destructive, and the refuge of sanity the two older sisters have created may be their only salvation. It's a tragedy not quite on a Shakespearean scale, but anyone who appreciates the difficulties of a dysfunctional family will relate to the heartbreak--and the promise of redemption. Pfeiffer especially is breathtaking as the good housewife Rose, whose rage at her father and her husband is never far from her placid surface. --Anne Hurley

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