The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Emotions carry local movie

It could only be small-town Wisconsin.

Writer and director Chris Boebel captures the feelings, looks and attitudes of his Boscobel, Wis., birthplace in “Red Betsy,” a movie about the care and changes in 1940s Wisconsin.

But past the beautiful and rustic sites and the Wisconsin nostalgia that comes with the film, there is a strong emotional undercurrent and a powerful family story in the movie.

Boebel, who based the movie on the book of his father, Charles, takes one of the most volatile eras in American history, the advent of World War II, and examines the impact it has on a very small and very close unspecified Wisconsin community.

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The epitome of this closeness is seen in the Rounds family. Anchored by the ultra-traditional patriarch Emmet (Leo Burmester), the Rounds family is the town’s centerpiece. Emmet’s son Dale (Brent Crawford) is the toast of the town as a young man learning to fly the old Red Betsy, the Rounds’ homemade plane, and smitten with Winifred (Alison Elliott).

After Dale and Winifred announce their engagement, the town is closer to each other and happier than ever, but the bombing of Pearl Harbor brings about both family tragedy and Dale’s departure for war, which force Emmet and Winifred together.

The movie spans a decade in the relationship between the two in-laws and their animosity-filled lives. After being changed by war, the Rounds’ town is slowly forced into the present day with electricity, which causes an already deeper rift between Alison and Emmet.

Emmet is determined to stay true to his roots and not even entertain the thought of letting the government control his power. Alison just desires to have the modern amenities of city life and feel like a human. Complicating the whole situation is Orin Sanders (Chad Lowe), who brings electricity to the town and temptation to Winifred’s life. Lowe is in the movie for a criminally short amount of time, but it definitely brings an enjoyable energy to the often subtle film.

Complicating the situation is Dale and Winifred’s daughter Jane (Courtney Jines). While dealing with what appears to be Attention Deficit Disorder, Jane has obvious respect for the work ethic and determination of her grandfather, and she grows further from her mother.

Jane’s difficulties at school, Winifred’s wanderlust and Emmet’s dogged determination and independence build the drama throughout the latter stages of the film and help build the heavy emotional drama of “Red Betsy.”

At the height of this emotion is Burmester’s Emmet. Burmester plays the character as quite crotchety, unapologetically close-minded and totally shut off from the world as the movie progresses. Watching Burmester paint his house is a powerful visual scene and cements the lone wolf mentality of the character.

There is no one blow-away moment in the movie, most developments are heavily fore-shadowed and the movie simply plays as a period piece, unlike last year’s “Far From Heaven,” but the simple story of “Red Betsy” fits the movie perfectly.

The slightly faded colors and repressed emotions of the movie all work together with the relatable and deep emotions of the movie. “Red Betsy” is a quiet but still forceful movie that could be seen as too simple for a nationwide release, but it’s perfect for small-town Wisconsin’s cinematic representation.

Grade; B