From the Eclipse Shelf: God’s Country

On Film / Short Takes — Mar 1, 2012

Louis Malle’s God’s Country is a remarkable account of one hamlet in the heartland of the United States—Glencoe, Minnesota—as seen first in 1979 and then again in 1985. Malle was fascinated by what he saw as a very American brand of provincialism, marked by religious faith and sexual and racial homogeneity. Yet his big-hearted love for the people of Glencoe is also evident; this portrait of small-town America by a European outsider is anything but condescending. Malle structured his film around interviews, letting a handful of the five thousand or so folks from this farming community tell their own stories. Of particular interest to Malle was a free-spirited, twenty-six-year-old social-security-office-worker named Jean, who sat down with the director for an extended, remarkably candid talk about religion, sex, love, marriage, and discrimination. Here are a couple of minutes from that conversation.