Magazine article Newsweek

Bastard out of Carolina

Magazine article Newsweek

Bastard out of Carolina

Article excerpt

An embattled movie's Southern Gothic horror

THE NARRATOR OF DOROTHY allison's 1992 novel, Bastard Out of Carolina, is a little girl named Bone whose mother makes it her mission to erase the "illegitimate" stamp from her daughter's birth certificate. Appropriately, the TV version has a bastard history of its own.

The movie was originally planned for pay cable, Showtime, until the director dropped out and the project drifted to TNT, with Anjelica Huston directing and Jennifer Jason Leigh in the starring role. But when Ted Turner got a look at the finished film he decided he didn't want intense, graphic depictions of child abuse and molestation on his network. Huston shopped the movie around as a big-screen feature, but it wound up back at Showtime, where "Bastard" will finally air (on Dec. 15) with all its child abuse and white-trash cliches intact.

You know bad stuffs gonna start happening right away: a couple of good ole boys drunk-driving a pickup truck with a pregnant woman asleep in the back seat. When you realize that this woman is Jennifer Jason Leigh, that seals it. This is not an actress known for her comedic roles. Dark, evil things lie in wait, involving much screaming and intense acting. What happens is, the good ole boys rear-end a feed truck (or some such rural vehicle) and Leigh's pregnant, 19-year-old Anney Boatwright goes through the windshield, hastening the birth of her baby girl, Ruth Anne (Bone) Boatwright. The father isn't in the picture, so Anney goes on the hunt for a replacement. The first guy seems a decent fella, so naturally he dies in yet another automotive mishap. …

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