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The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
IMDB Rating: 7.3/10 from 5,275 votes
Release: 1 June 2007 (Spain) /

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Jane Anderson,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Kelly and Evelyn Ryan live in Defiance, Ohio with their 10 children. At first glance their life seems idyllic; they call each other "Mother" and "Father" and seem to dote on the kids. But Kelly was a garage-band crooner whose voice was ruined in an auto accident. He's resigned to a dead-end factory job that barely pays the bills, and is given to fits of alcohol-induced rage. Evelyn, a stay-at-home wife and mother, deals with this abuse by appealing to her priest, who is no help at all. She deals with their poverty by entering the jingle contests that were the rage in the 50's and early 60's, even sending in multiple entries in the names of the children. She is very clever at it, winning more than her share of prizes, but her successes aren't enough to keep the wolf from the door. Further, they trigger Kelly's insecurities and he retreats deeper into the bottle, using food and mortgage money to support the habit. Can the loving, optimistic Evelyn hold the family together? Is she ... Written by Joe Jurca

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Critic Reviews


I went into a screening of this film cold. I didn't know anything about it except that it starred Julianne Moore. I walked by a poster of the film on the way into the theater and was horrified, thinking it was going to be a chick flick.

Well, folks. When I go into a theater and I can't take my eyes off the screen and the movie goes by without me ever even checking my watch, I know I've seen a good movie.

Moore plays a woman with 10 children. Although her husband works as a machinist, she basically provides for the family by winning all sorts of contests for all kinds of big prizes, including big cash prizes. The woman is a master of winning these things. It's the one thing that's keeping her family together. She's definitely the hero and the one person everyone looks up to. Definitely an inspiration. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll stop at that, but I will say that Moore does a great job with her role.

Moore's husband in the movie, played by Woody Harrelson with emotional conviction and healthy dose of humanity, has a drinking problem and is a big source of tension inside the household. To the movie's credit, it doesn't paint the father as the typical one-note, evil, hateful,abusive, drunken father. There's a real character in there who loves his wife and kids and the movie does its best to portray him as fairly as possible despite his drinking problem and fits of rage.

The movie does bring out strong emotions from its audience, not quite a tear-jerker but close. It's not the sort of movie I would watch again and again because it's not my type of film, but I was glad for having seen it.

There's good acting, good pacing, a good story and possibly most important of all, it is told in an entertaining, gripping fashion. I wouldn't be surprised to find out if there is an Academy Award nomination in store for Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson.

At the end of the movie, there was a nice round of applause from the audience. I told one lady, "Wow, the two hours just went..." and I snapped my fingers. She said, "It just zipped by." I also heard several different people talking as I left the theater, "Did you like it?" "Yeah, it was great."

Go see it.

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