Wrestling with Alligators

Photo Courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival

In Wrestling with Alligators, director Laurie Weltz has lovingly constructed a story around the intertwined lives of four women living in a boarding house in a sleepy seaside hamlet and the experiences that impact them right before America officially experiences the sixties. It is Indian summer of 1959, and America is on the verge of change. No one is feeling it more than Maddy, the youngest of the clan. She is trying to balance the shift in society against the changes in her teenage body. A tomboy mechanic, she is a runaway from the swamps of Florida, and fate has landed her on the doorstep of Lulu, a fading silent screen star who owns the rambling rooming house. Maddy doesn't always understand the antics of her older "sisters," Claire, the widowed French war bride, or Mary, who is deserting the nest to get married. Even though these women are not related by blood, Maddy's longing for family keeps them together. And she is the catalyst that helps them face the world with determination and power.

Weltz and a fine cast collaborate to create this lush cinematic experience. There is something sublime about the period colors and locations, but just as you are lulled into nostalgic reminiscence, the film hits you with real dilemmas such as coping with an unwanted pregnancy, societal pressure, and the stifling fifties conservatism that ruled this "age of innocence." Beautifully conceived and executed, Wrestling with Alligators is a refreshingly truthful depiction of human issues and a group of women forced into new ways of thinking not by fashion but for their own survival.

- John Cooper

Directed by: Laurie Weltz
Written by: Laurie Weltz, Scott Kraft
Starring: Joely Richardson, Jay O. Sanders, Claire Bloom, Aleksa Palladino, Sam Trammell, Adrienne Shelly
Produced by: Marcia Kirkley
Original Music by: Andrew Hollander

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