Lawn Dogs

  • 1997
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

The ghost of Carson McCullers hangs over this heavy-handed tale of class conflict and the coming of age of a bright, disaffected 10-year-old Devon (Mischa Barton) in a sterile gated Louisiana community called Camelot Gardens. Devon's prosperous, hypocritical parents (Christopher MacDonald, Kathleen Quinlan) are obsessed with appearances and try to push...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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The ghost of Carson McCullers hangs over this heavy-handed tale of class conflict and the coming of age of a bright, disaffected 10-year-old Devon (Mischa Barton) in a sterile gated Louisiana community called Camelot Gardens. Devon's prosperous,

hypocritical parents (Christopher MacDonald, Kathleen Quinlan) are obsessed with appearances and try to push her into activities with potential for Junior League social brown-nosing, like selling Girl Scout cookies and befriending popular girls her own age. But Devon, whose character has been

shaped by frequent bouts with heart disease, is inclined to morbid flights of fancy and instead strikes up a friendship with Trent (Sam Rockwell), a 21-year-old local who does yard work for his more affluent neighbors. Mischa, who's enthralled by the grim Russian folk tale of a witch called Baba

Yaga, is willful and forward: She pursues Trent, badgers him to pal around with her, almost inadvertently bullies him from her position of social privilege; he's not too swift, but he knows the danger of being seen hanging around the woods with a little girl. That their relationship will lead to

trouble is a given: The insular, casually prejudiced Camelot community regards the poor, undereducated likes of Trent as pure trash, unfit to consort with their betters, and the sexual potential of a relationship between a budding girl and an older man is too potent to ignore. Poet Naomi Wallace's

script tries to weave the demonic specter of sexual abuse and Devon's fairy-tale flights of fancy into one constricting knot of hysteria and willful misinterpretation. John Duigan's resolutely unmagical handling of the material undermines the subtle and affecting performances by Barton and

Rockwell, making it hard to see anything but a heavy-handed story of terribly ill-considered behavior, a story whose magic-realist ending is wildly out of sync with everything that precedes it.

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  • Released: 1997
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The ghost of Carson McCullers hangs over this heavy-handed tale of class conflict and the coming of age of a bright, disaffected 10-year-old Devon (Mischa Barton) in a sterile gated Louisiana community called Camelot Gardens. Devon's prosperous, hypocriti… (more)

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