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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Zelly and Me
Directed by Tina Rathborne
Columbia TriStar 04/88 DVD/VHS Feature Film

A number of 1988 films have examined the moral and intellectual capacities marshalled by children as they cope with change, pain and even death. Among the best are Au Revoir, Les Enfants about Nazi occupation of France in World War II and The Grand Highway, a French drama about a nine-year old city boy's maturation during a nine-week stay in the country.

This American drama is set in Virginia in 1958. Phoebe (Alexandra Jones) is a grade school orphan who lives with her grandmother (Glynis Johns) and her French-born governess (Isabella Rossellini). As novelist Flannery O'Connor once wrote, "Agony is given in strange ways to children." The film's writer and director, Tina Rathborne, sensitively charts this young girl's struggle to endure the abusive treatment she receives from her possessive and stern grandmother. When her governess proves to be an unreliable source of support, Phoebe — like her heroine Joan of Arc — survives by listening to her inner voice. Zelly and Me celebrates the survival skills of a creative little girl under pressure. Don't miss this excellent film!


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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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