Mark Twain-esque tale of murder and bigotry set in 1859 Vermilionville, Louisianan area. Armand Assante (Belizaire) plays a clever Cajun healer trying to protect his cousin Hypolite and the whole Cajun community from local 'rednecks' It is an engrossing and enjoyable film that tells its story with any wrong moves. With only a couple of words ('bastard children') that could offend, it is a fairly tame, family film.
It takes only a few minutes to get into the Cajun and French accents and after that the film is to enjoyable to let that get in the way.
In southwestern Louisiana in 1859 the American men of the upper class were joining together in a vigilante "committee" - the forerunner of the Ku Klux Klan - to frighten the local Cajun population into leaving the territory so that they could then have the 'best' land along the bayous. Not yet threaten and for now perhaps the best liked of the Cajuns, Belizaire, is a healer, fast talker and thinker, and a 'real' character with real and preceived powers. Belizaire's cousin has been told to leave the area and suddenly Belizaire is pulled into the fray.
The film seems well researched and authentic. Filmed on locations in Southwestern Louisiana. Richard Bowen's photography does look nice with authentic faces among the nonprofessional supporting actors. Worth watching. 3 stars out of 4.
Video tape and book by same name available from: Glen Pitre, Louisiana Catalog, Cut Off, Louisiana
personal views plus notes from movie reviewers, Mark R. Leeper and Dave Kehr