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THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO

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 Jane Anderson directs this slice of mid-century Americana adapted from Terry Ryan's memoir about her mother. Evelyn Ryan (Julianne Moore) kept her large brood - 10 kids and a boozy husband -- intact with her relentless optimism and her knack for winning advertising-slogan and jingle contests. There's a decidedly bittersweet thread to Anderson's film: She -- and we -- can't help viewing Evelyn's turbulent domestic life through the prism of today's feminism, and the repeated narrative pattern of two steps up, one step back quells our expectations for pat resolutions. But our contemporary desires retroactively applied are unfair to Evelyn's reality, and as we learn in a sentimental coda, her victories were ultimately measured not in small everyday moments, but in the satisfaction of raising a strong family. Oaks (AH)

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