(Host) He wasn’t too excited about the last one, but commentator Jules Older went wild for John O’Brien’s newest Vermont movie.
(Older) Okay, I admit it. I’m the only Vermonter I know who didn’t love “Man with a Plan.” I liked it. I thought it was cute. And Lord knows I loved the follow-up: Fred Tuttle’s VPR debate with the other Republican running for the Senate. To me, that was the defining moment of Vermont politics and the absolute high point of American political campaigning.
But John O’Brien’s movie that made his Tunbridge neighbor Fred Tuttle more famous than the governor somehow failed to rock my world. So, it was with mixed feelings that I allowed myself to be dragged to the Bijou in Motown (Morrisville to you) to see O’Brien’s latest hometown epic, “Nosey Parker.”
I loved it. It was funny, touching, and wildly scenic. This is a man who really knows how to milk the cash cow we call leaf-peeping. But that’s only part of the picture.
Two things made me fall for this flick. One was the way O’Brien deftly stepped around the trap he’d set for himself. The obvious approach is a them vs. us story about poor-but-honest, salt-of-the-earth Vermonters dealing with rich, spoiled, insensitive Flatlanders.
I mean this is a movie about poor-but-honest, salt-of-the-earth Vermonters dealing with rich, spoiled, insensitive Flatlanders. The latter move up from the city and buy a big house on a Tunbridge hillside. But O’Brien doesn’t turn the locals into saints, doesn’t cast the newcomers as urban hucksters, and even manages to capture the more subtle response of last year’s move-ups to the new folks.
In fact, my favorite line comes from a recent move-up who snipes, “I mean the fenestration on that building is just atrocious… they haven’t met a window they didn’t like.”
So, that’s one thing. The other is the unexpected but undeniable spark of life between the young female move-up and the old-geezer local, played by Natalie Picoe and George Lyford. Talk about chemistry! These guys played off each other like, like – like they really, truly were crazy about each other. Not sex, not parent and child, just intense pleasure in one another’s good company.
Okay, and there’s one thing more. Now that both dear geezers, Fred and George, have gone to the big dairy farm in the sky, I guess I loved the fact that young John O’Brien had the sense and sensitivity to first see and then capture on film the earthy goodness of these two oldtime Vermonters.
Great chemistry, great autumn colors, great Vermonters and a great time in Motown.
This is Jules Older in Albany, Vermont, the Soul of the Kingdom.
Jules Older is the author of more than 20 books for children and adults.