the prize winner of defiance, idaho

This is a clever film about a clever woman who supported her family by “contesting”—writing jingles to win appliances, toys, and even cash. Julianne Moore stars as Evelyn Ryan the always optimistic mother of 11 children, and wife of a boozing husband, who supports her children with an incredible knack for advertising. This true story is based on the memoir by one of her children, and features amusing exposition by Evelyn herself as she explains how she came to support her family on prizes. While it’s apparent how much love and respect the children have for her, the story has a melancholic undertone as we wonder why she puts up with her husband drinking away what little money they have. [us, 2005]

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