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‘The Beans of Egypt, Maine’ (NR)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 02, 1994

Here's a little poem about "The Beans of Egypt, Maine":

Beans, beans, good for your heart,

The more you watch, the more you

Feel like pulling out your hair in huge, painful clumps.

Okay, so it's not a rhyme. But this movie doesn't deserve one. Based on Carolyn Chute's novel about a family of trailer park mutts in New England, Jennifer Warren's "The Beans of Egypt, Maine" is a stultifying examination of America's cul-de-sac cultural wasteland.

Ruled by Ruby (Rutger Hauer), the volatile patriarch, drunk and bar fighter who at the beginning of the film is sent away to prison for an 11-year sentence, the Bean family is white trash to the bone -- inbred, illiterate, too dumb to live. On the maternal side, Ruby's wife (Kelly Lynch) is brood hen to the most unwholesome-looking gang of brats assembled in some time. Still, across the dirt driveway, love springs eternal in the bosom of Martha Plimpton, the daughter of a hard-core Bible nut. She spies Beal (Patrick McGaw), Ruby's handsome young son, without his shirt on and is never quite the same again. Instantaneously -- or so it seems -- she is pregnant with Beal's child, and despite the protests of her father, she is swept away, as it were, by a tide of Beans.

Ostensibly a rustic reworking of the "Romeo and Juliet" plot, the movie is eventful but numbing. Time stands still while the love story gets underway, and when it does, the lovers are so dim and clumsy that you can never warm up to them. As for Plimpton, she has never seemed so charmless and pinched. Hauer, on the other hand, has his moments. Whenever he's around, the furniture seems to scoot a little closer to the wall and out of his path.

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