Merchant Ivory’s The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, based on the novella by Carson McCullers and the play by Edward Albee, is both a grotesque black comedy and a prime slice of Southern Gothic set in a poverty-stricken rural community dominated by the curious, androgynous character of Miss Amelia.
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A strange and wonderful Southern Gothic. A masterful performance by Vanessa Redgrave - one of her absolute best - with Keith Carradine and particularly Cork Hubbart strong supporting. Director Simon Callow balances the material so it steers clear of outright melodrama, infusing it with a palpable eerie atmosphere of the deep South. A masterpiece.
This is the only movie I've ever seen that makes the United States as eerily lush and mysterious in its natural formation as I know it. It took an outsider like Callow (not only a Brit, but this is his only direction credit) but even for the few problems I encountered, I was consistently drawn to just how gorgeous and weird the country looks. This is a unique version of the South, unrivaled as far as I'm concerned.