Southern Hearts And Hormones

The title character of Rambling Rose, played by Laura Dern, is a promiscuous, dirt-poor country girl looking for love in all the wrong places. Taken in by a gracious Southern family during the Depression, she predictably turns the house upside down, awakening the hormonal juices of 13-year-old Buddy (Lukas Haas), tempting the household's courtly patriarch (Robert Duvall), testing the compassion of the spacey, sophisticated mother (Diane Ladd) and driving the randy local boys wild. Rose is a familiar sentimentalized Southern literary character-the tramp/waif with a heart of gold-- and Martha Coolidge's movie of novelist Calder Willingham's 1972 comic valentine doesn't entirely transcend this cliche. But there are scenes in this warm, relaxed film that are an absolute delight--a funny, erotic under-the-covers encounter between Rose and little Buddy, and even better, a tete-a-tete in bed between Duvall and Ladd. The intimate rhythms these two superb actors work up together capture a lifetime of marriage. Duvall and Ladd are the true heart and soul of "Rambling Rose."