I don’t often do things like movie reviews, but my brother Steve recommended that I watch a movie on Netflix called, “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio.” I watched yesterday, and sobbed most of the way through. It really brought back a lot of memories from my childhood…some not so pleasant ones. Now, my mother didn’t look like the Julianne Moore character of the mother in the movie. She looked tired, and worn, and wore old clothes. But she worked her rear end off to keep us together, and persevered through the trials…never lost her will to live or her faith in God. My father was often drunk and abusive to Mom. He was prone to fits of rage, as the father, Kelly, in the movie. Kelly is played by Woody Harrelson. And after my father had a stroke in 1979, Mom took care of him for the following 17 years until his death. I wondered at times how she could do it…and how she could cry when he died, instead of just rejoicing. Is that awful? I don’t mean to be. I just mean it to be honest about how I felt for a long time. I have forgiven my father.
Regarding the story, and the pain I experienced in watching, I examined that. I wonder sometimes if it’s a good thing to spend time remembering the painful things of the past. But I think that yes, it can be. But the movie is not just about depicting those painful things. It’s about a woman who persevered and held a family together while the father seemed hell bent on tearing it apart. It’s about forgiveness and even about restitution….can’t think of the real word I’m looking for there. Restitution will have to suffice at the moment.
It’s also got a lot of humor in it, so it’s not all just doom and gloom. But it’ll likely make you feel angry at times. One scene with a priest really made me seethe, because I remembered an incident where Mom and I were sitting with a priest and hearing a cold, unfeeling, very similar response. I realized after watching the movie that I’ve never forgiven that priest. And I know that I must.
The movie is based on a true story…a book written by Terry ‘Tuff’ Ryan, one of the daughters. I looked her up after watching, and she passed away in 2007 of cancer. The real children are shown at the end of the movie.
I watched the trailer, and in my opinion it is lacking to really give an idea of how good I thought the movie was. There is some very strong language throughout. The father frequently let loose in his drunken bouts of rage.
So this is my recommendation that you see that. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments if you see it, or if you’ve already seen it. Be sure you have tissues handy.
Love and blessings,