A strange and candid look at Reganite small town America. A sort of 20th century Democracy in America with another outsider Frenchman looking into American society. Malle is never condescending although he does look into the moral structures that govern the residents actions and it seems clear he has some preferences.
Malle paints a portrait of the nostalgic "old way" - the muted expectations, the contentment in gentle community and piety, all the humble concession to life's waves - and laments the way it faded, replaced by our contemporary obsession with greed. This is the sad and quiet beginning of the perversion of the American Dream, reaching into even the sleepiest and friendliest corners of the country. A very beautiful film
If someone made a documentary about the town I grew up in it wouldn't be that dissimilar to this film. Secondly I wish I could have been friends with Louis Malle, his lens is always compassionately transfixed on the right people not to mention timelessly relevant, a true sociologist.
I wonder if this film would even be possible these days. It is very resonant, but the people in this film were so real and gracious. I think people now in the era of reality television wouldn't know how to be real. If I were making a film like this, I would suspect that most people that I came across were just acting for me and hamming it up for their 15 minutes.
It takes a fine director like Malle to make a documentary about America that somehow does not exploit its subjects. The discussion about the 1985 government's "obsession with greed" seemed to ring a bell with our current situation in America. Perhaps history repeats itself.