Bastard Out of Carolina [VHS]
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Product Description

This fine but shocking drama (which Ted Turner paid for and then refused to show on his cable outfits), based on the novel by Dorothy Allison, concerns extensive abuse endured by a girl (Jena Malone) at the hands of her stepfather (Ron Eldard), while her mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) looks the other way. Anjelica Huston made her directorial debut with this film and demonstrates that talent also runs in the family when behind the camera. Difficult to watch but mitigated by Huston's intelligent approach and sense of balance--as well as outstanding performances--this is a significant film best left to the most mature audiences. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews:

  • Great Movie!
    This is a great movie about a young girl that gets molested and physically abused by her step-father. Her mother had to choose between her man and her daughter and she chose her man. The sad part is that there are so many women out there that let this happen to their children and that choose their men rather than their children. I gave it 5 stars and I do recommend it to viewers, it is very sad and graphic, but I have seen this movie over and over and I do own it on DVD. I know a lot of people say it's to disturbing and a lot of graphic and sad and it bothered them. But, as an abuse survivor, I still loved the movie and would recommend it. My mom was a lot like Bone's mother, she sacrificed me for her man, she didn't believe me and she blamed me and then she kicked her boy-friend out and still dated him. I was so betrayed, so I can understand what Bone felt and was going through and feeling betrayed by her mother, hurt and scared. All of the domestic violence, child abuse and all other true movies have helped me out a great deal. So, these movies can teach you a lot and be aware and just help people out that are in that situation. Because, as a survivor these types of movies have helped me out and to understand a lot and to watch out for certain things etc. Great movie and to me it has a happy ending, to some others it could be a sad ending....more info
  • If not for the fact that it was based on truth
    I was born and raised in South Carolina in 1953 but left when I was sixteen years I thought it might be interesting to watch this movie. I was wrong. This movie is really not a pleasant movie to watch. But for the fact that it is supposed to be based on fact, I am not sure I would find watching it of any worthwhile value. It reminded me of the movie, Rosewood. Truth or not, I mean what's the point to making movies of this stuff. ...more info
  • Almost as Good as the Book It's Based On
    This movie is based on a semi-autobiographical novel, "Bastard Out of Carolina," written by the famous feminist,lesbian author, Dorothy Allison. Analogous to the book it is based on, this film is a genuinely poignant and disquieting piece of art that was too shocking to be aired as originally planned on TNT. More importantly, the director (Anjelica Houston)does a stellar job of portraying the main events and characters in relation to the actual occurrences described in the novel. Author Dorothy Allison claims that through writing the novel "Bastard," she was able to gain perspective on some of the most horrific events of her childhood.

    As a whole, the movie chronicles the life of an illegitimate young girl named Bone, who is born into a close-knit, yet extremely impoverished South Carolina family known as the Boatwrights. Naturally, the character Bone is meant to represent the author as she recounts various memories of her childhood.

    Bone's life begins well enough- -she grows up amongst a loving single mother named Anney, a younger half-sister (Reese), and many drunken, flamboyant aunts and uncles. However, Bone's life takes a turn for the worse when her mother marries a man named Glen, whom Bone is later forced to call "Daddy Glen."

    In the novel, Glen is a victim of verbal and psychological abuse at the hands of his father and two older, financially successful brothers. While his full motivations are never explicitly stated, Glen begins to use Bone as a scapegoat for his failures as a provider and as a husband. Shortly after marrying Bone's mother, Glen begins to physically and sexually abuse Bone. As is common amongst rape and/or incest victims, Bone is too ashamed to tell her mother or any of her other family members what is happening. Not to mention the fact that Bone comes to blame herself for Glen's behavior.

    Although there are many warning signs, Bone's mother either refuses to acknowledge her husband's misconduct, or she is simply unaware of what is going on. Nevertheless, at the end of the film, Bone's mother is forced to admit the truth when she finds Glen in the act of sexually assaulting her daughter.

    What's more, Bone's mother has to choose between her daughter and the man she loves. It is a fact-based, and heartwrenching tale of classism, sexism, and most of all- -childhood abuse. Despite the fact that this film is definitely not a "Cinderella" story, it is still a tale that desperately needs to be told. ...more info
  • Good but sad
    A great, but also sad movie... It's a movie about a poor southern girl that doesn't have a so happy childhood. Her mother has problems choosing men and marries up with a man that ends up being the worst of all. He sexually abuses Bone (Played by Jena Malone) for a long period of time. Some out of frustration over his failure as a father, a husband, and a man that can't live up to his own fathers expectations... But mostly do to his sick and twisted state of mind.

    It's a very depressing movie that doesn't really sugarcoat anything... The acting is OSCAR worthy and it's a well shot movie other than at times being alittle to stereotypical of the southern family. It's not really meant to watch over and over again.. Watching it once should be enough for most....more info
  • Is it OK for child actors to portray sex scenes?
    Like so many others, this movie struck a raw nerve with me regarding the graphic detail that was enacted by then 12 year old Jena Malone. Although the movie has a point to make about child abuse and sexual abuse, I, as the mother of a 13 year old, can not understand how another mother could stand by and watch her child being filmed in such graphic detail. I could not watch the whole movie as the car scene was so disturbing I turned it off. What is the difference between a child being molested, and a child actor who is sitting in the lap of a grown man? Why are the laws different for Jena? Yes, these types of movies have a point to make, but sacrificing the innocence of another child is not the way to do it....more info
  • On the Technical Side
    Bastard Out Of Carolina is an intense and important film; however my comment concerns the DVD edition's shortcomings. I own both the DVD and VHS versions of this film and am extremely disappointed that the audio transfer for the DVD is NOT stereo. The tape has a clear stereo mix but the DVD's audio is a shoddy mono track although the packaging states otherwise. The DVD is also presented in a fullscreen rather than widescreen format. For these reasons I cannot recommend the DVD version of this film....more info
  • Powerful and disturbing...
    When I first saw this movie on, 'Lifetime' tv I was so horrified I literraly trembled. After a few months I saw the importance of this movie and later even came to really admire everyone involved with it's creation. Jenna Malone gives such a STUNNING performance. Jenna's acting here is totally Oscar worthy. She's truly a gifted actress....more info
  • Just Awful
    This movie is just so awful and yet so good > It lets you know about the cruelity that many children suffer, and though it's depressing I still don't want to turn a blind Eye to it > Are they others ways to tell people that this kind of stuff goes on, well I say yes, but still the movie is a good way > This movie may not be for everyone seeing as how it is kinda intense with the details it shows ect., and manby not a good film for your little Child to see > I do think this film though is good for those who watch it so they can be reminded that this stuff goes on and want to do something about it > I saw that the person who gave this one star said that watching this film will not help children who are abused and that person was right, however this film can remind many others that this stuff goes on and make them want to do something about it > There are many ways people can help out , like donation money to victims like the little girl in the film , sending letters to congress ect. asking that the law tries to keep an even closer eye on this type of stuff ect. > As much pain as the girl feels from the belt and from the sexual abuse of her Step Father I feel that the most painful thing was ... Well let me explain, if this girl was just taken by some Stranger off the street and raped and beaten ect. well that would be bad , But the fact that this girl is beaten and rape by someone in like the family that is the worst part about it > The Man was like a friend of the family and then became the husband of the girls mother and the fact that his anger got the best of him and he abused this girl so much is worse in my eyes then if she had been beat and raped by some creep off the streets she did not know > Its such a sad story because the girl had lost her other Step Father and never had known her real Father > I feel bad for the mother as well who does not have the real Father of her child and when she finds a good husband he dies, then she finds another who is supposed to be good but turns out so bad > I kinda felt like the abusive Step Father really did love the little girl and wanted to do the right thing, but his anger got the best of him , but manby I am wrong > The Step Father seemed to have been abused by his Father and seemed unwanted so I could not help feeling sorry for him, but at the same time I feel so angry at him for what he did > I wish he could have kept his anger under control, since he knew what it was like to be abused I wish he would not have done that to the little girl > Its such an awful and sad story, but yet at the same time I think it good that they made this book into a movie, both the book and the movie I feel can give people a wake up call that this happens and it can cause others to want to try to find a way to stop some of these sad stories of abuse that go on > I am not saying that people who have a temper are bad now > I mean lots of good people have tempers, but they don't let there bad temper cause them to become abusive > Also manby the first time he beat her he had to think hard about it but after that it got more easy,and then became like a drug, that could be a message also that once you give in to becoming abusive just one time it can become like a drug to where you want to be abusive more and more and that is just scary > I think people who start to become violent with there tempers might need to get help right away because sometimes it can become like a drug to where you want to keep being Violent over and over again and even abusive and then being abusive becomes like a drug > This man Glen his bad side started to get the best of him and then manby over took him so much that he could not turn away from being abusive > I am not going to say that this Man was a Mental Case and use that as an excuse for him for get away with this awful crime , all I am saying is somethings anger ect. can get the best of people > I feel bad for all the children who have suffered this kind of abuse and some have suffered even more so then this girl suffered in the film > I want to do what I can to help >...more info
  • It will rip your heart out
    It literally took me at least a month for my feelings to recover after seeing this film on Lifetime. Despite this film's fine direction, acting, and screenplay, it is so barbaric and sickening to watch sweet little Bone (Jena Malone) repeatedly be sexually and physically abused, often strapped with a belt, by her stepfather Glen (Ron Eldard) and never see her mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) have the brains to take legal action. The scene I will never get over is the final abuse scene where the stepfather intrudes into the house of her aunt and uncle and extensively swings Bone around by her head, punches her in the face, and LITERALLY gets on top of her and rapes her. The only reason why I would ever remember this film is because of a super-strong, absoultely perfect performance by little Jena Malone as Bone, the heart of the entire film. Wow. You have never seen a performance this intense, not even from an adult actress, let alone with material this hideous! By God, she will rip your heart out!...more info
  • Not As Good As The Book But Still Great
    If you want to read the book, DO IT! It was awesome. In fact, the book inspired me to purchase the movie.

    I very much enjoyed the movie and was surprised at how much it matched my mental image of the characters. However!, the book goes so much deeper than the movie does, but this is quite common in movie renditions and so I wouldn't particularly consider this negative....more info

  • Scandalous but must be seen
    This movie was both infuriating and intriguing. To see how a woman can overlook the abuse of her child for the love of a man. Jenifer Jason Leigh does a fine job in this movie but is outshone by newcomer Jena Malone, who as such a young girl tackled such an adult content and so dramatically. This is a must see movie that shows not only the horrifying abuse too many children go through but also the importance of an extended family and having someone close for children to turn to in times of need. I was not ready for some of the shocking scenes in this movie but I could not turn it off because I felt it was important and believe it needs to be brought out in to the open. This movie generated much controversy in the press and many up and down emotions in me while watching, from sorrow to rage to happiness at different points. This girl's story is engrossing but she triumphed. An instant classic that few will see because of the content....more info
  • A story that will haunt you and rob you of smiles
    This 1996 Showtime film is set in rural South Carolina in the 1950s. It stars Jennifer Jason Leigh as a young unwed mother whose loves her young daughter, played by Jena Malone, but yet is incapable from protecting her from an abusive stepfather, played by Ron Eldard. Directed by Anjelica Huston, it brought out the best of all the actors and kept me glued to the screen in spite of the depressing story. Over and over again, we witness the senseless physical abuse by the father, and the young girl's stoic acceptance of it all. It was good that there were enough aunts and uncles in her extended loving family to help out, but her life is a history of short reprieves with various aunts and uncles, only to be picked up by her mother and brought back again to her house of torture. Yes, this is fiction, but we all know that these things exist. The director was wise though to also develop the characters of the mother and stepfather; we understand who they are and how they got that way, even as we despise what they are doing. The stepfather is out of control and the mother cannot bring herself to leave him, but it is the young girl who must suffer the most. It's a haunting story and, like life itself, there are no easy answers....more info
  • This movie
    this movie was awesome. not because of its content or what it was about. but because we dont realize how often this does occur. i feel like one out of ever 4 children are sexually or physically or even mentally abused. This movie had really made me think about what kids really go through and each time i think about it the more i feel like i need to become a teacher and tell kids. DONT BE AFRAID!! its not your fault just tell someone!!...more info
  • bastard out of carolina
    i own this movie myself,love this movie very much.this movie is very moving,upsetting to say the least.that a woman would fall for a green eye monster, and to allow her husband to physical abuse... her little stay with this man after she finds out all the abuse she has seen her daughter goes thru from this man hand.this is a must see movie,for all women....more info
  • Unique blend of women's victimization AND women's strength
    This emotionally intense but wonderful movie weaves the story of abuse of women alongside women's strength provided by family. I found it unique in this respect. It made me wish I had lots of female relatives living nearby to provide strength and support. The reviewer who gave it one star because the subject matter was filthy should remember that if we don't talk about these issues we will never change them....more info
  • Bone
    his is a very sad movie..about a little girl named Bone who is sexually abused by her stepfather right under her mothers nose..Even though her mother knew that the father was being cruel to her daughter she stayed with him cause she figured she needed a man in her life..This movie was very touching it was hard for me to watch some of the abuse but Jenna Malone played an excellent role as Bone......more info
  • Should be out of print
    There are just some subject matters that we don't need to view on the screen and one of them is graphic child abuse. We all know unspeakable things happen to children and how horrible it is that more isn't being done to prevent it. The film makers put in the horrific scenes to make us think they are promoting awareness. In my opinion the scenes are just for shock value, the plot is slim and this film would be considered boring without them. Who cares if the some of the acting is good? In my opinion, there are few films where Jennifer Jason Leigh isn't great. Good performances are not enough to redeem this piece of junk. This movie is just too graphic. There is a scene where the step-father rapes the little girl, picking her up by the head and swinging her around. And they actually show him on top of her, and the scene goes on and on. Its just filthy. Who would really want to sit through this movie? It has one sick violent scene after another, and an unhappy ending. I saw it several years ago and the scenes still pop into my head, unfortunately. Stay away from this trash. If you're interested in preventing child abuse, sitting through this isn't going to help anyone. By not buying it you will let the studio know they shouldn't waste money keeping it in print. Thumbs up to Russell Crowe who turned down the step-father role because of the graphic violence....more info
  • Good intentions, good direction, good acting....
    This film has a lot going for it, [....] Anjelica Huston has certainly made a heartfelt and insightful directorial debut. The scenes of abuse are harrowing; even more so are the aftermath scenes, when things are being hidden and not being said. And Huston has assembled a first-rate cast (it's a tribute to her stature that an established actor like Dermot Mulroney is playing a virtual bit part). Jena Malone has the title role and gives a thoroughly mature performance. She seems to be in character even in scenes where she's just glimpsed on the sidelines.

    Two other actors really impressed me. I've always been amazed by Diana Scarwid's work, almost as amazed as I've been that she's so undervalued in American films. Here, as Raylene (a character I understand is less fleshed out in the film than in the novel), she's just about perfect.

    The other is Ron Eldard as Glen, the abusive stepfather. Eldard is not afraid to reveal any side of this difficult character's nature: not only the viciousness, but the charm, need, torment, feelings of inadequacy and despair. A lot of actors would want to convey to us somehow that they're only playing a role, they'd ask us not to confuse them with the odiousness of the character. Eldard gives a deeply committed performance, and I respect him for that.

    But, I had some problems with this film.

    First, if there is a group of people who deserve some attention from the politically correct among us, it is the working class of the rural and small-town American South (sorry, even with a gun to my head, I won't use the term "white trash"). In film after film, we get the same very narrow assortment of characters, with the same predictable reactions and behaviour. The very casting of Grace Zabriskie as Granny is a tip-off: this tough, myopic redneck is the only kind of role she ever seems to play, so we know exactly what we're going to get right from the beginning. And sure enough.....

    Second, and more serious, is the character of Anney, who seems to be a plot device more than an actual character (this does not reflect on Jennifer Jason Leigh's performance, which is better than the material). Perhaps we are to infer that Anney has suffered an abusive childhood, but there is no evidence in the screenplay of this. At least in Glen's case we're shown where the seeds of his behaviour were sown (and sure enough, there's Pat Hingle as his daddy, as much of a cliche as Zabriskie). In Anney's case, she's defied the authorities, had a loving (if brief) marriage to Lyle Parsons (played by Dermot Mulroney), castigated Glen repeatedly for failing to fulfil his duty as a husband and father. She's even told him that she'll never let her children know hunger and cold, following which she's become the working parent in that family. She's a strong woman.

    Then she becomes the enabler in her husband's abuse of the daughter, and she has to turn into another character. Anney, as presented to us during the first half of the film, would never have tolerated even a hint of abuse.

    This seems to be the way Hollywood films work: when a plot device is needed, logic, human behaviour, and probability are the first things to go. (OK, I'm willing to concede that a person like Anney may actually have existed, but these days we have a lot of access to the profiles of abuse victims, abusers, and enablers, and Anney just doesn't fit. She also doesn't work in terms of storytelling. The ending was predictable rather than inexorable: it wasn't, to me at least, believable or moving, it was merely effective.)

    One more threadbare cliche (and it's infuriated me many times in Hollywood movies). Both scenes in which Glen whips Bone are set in the bathroom. Anney runs after them, attempting to intervene, but Glen successfully prevents her by locking the bathroom door. Baloney!! They live in a rickety old house: any teenager could kick that door open, let alone a supposedly impassioned and enraged mother.

    Bastard Out Of Carolina deals with an important issue, and it has the virtue of its good intentions. But, alas, neither of these things is enough to make it a good film....more info

    Anjelica Huston's directorial debut is a stunning one. This film, based with loving care on Dorothy Allison's fine novel by screenwriter Anne Meredith, tells the story of a pre-teen girl growing up under horrific family surroundings in the 1950s American South.

    Bone Boatwright, played with astounding sensitivity and guts by young actor Jena Malone, is subjected to unconscionable brutality and sexual abuse by her stapfather. Her mother, portrayed here by Jennifer Jason Leigh, is in deep denial of what is happening to her child, unable or unwilling to see what is occuring under her roof -- partly afraid of losing her husband, partly due to psychological trauma she most likely received when she was a child. This pattern of behavior is usually circular in nature -- victims many times become perpetrators or enablers when they become adults. Only intensive counseling and a deep determination on the part of the survivor can break this horrible chain.

    Jena Malone turns in the performance of a lifetime -- and from one so young! If she can do this level of work at this age, what will she be capable of as her career continues? The entire cast is well-chosen -- this was a project about which they obviously cared very deeply. The performances they give here attest to that.

    Meredith's screenplay is excellent -- very true to Allison's novel. Some parts were necessarily left out for considerations of film length -- the important thing is that Meredith was intelligent and respectful enough of Allison's work that she wisely chose not to add any elements on her own. Too many screenwriters make that mistake -- it's refreshing to see such a quality screenplay for such an important work as this.

    Anjelica Huston must have been extremely moved by Allison's novel (an amazing book -- check it out) to have taken on a project such as this, one that she most likely knew would not be a box office smash. She shows great sensitivity to the material here -- there are some scenes that are necessarily brutal in nature, and they are filmed with both truth and dignity. This is an ugly story -- thank God she chose not to show it through rose-colored glasses. The more fine films on this subject are seen, the greater our chances as a people of understanding this shameful problem in our society. The more it is discussed and brought into the light of day, the fewer places there will remain for the perpetrators to hide. Those who don't believe things like this still occur are fooling themselves -- statistics show that over 70% of children in America are sexually abused in some degree. Think about that the next time you pass a school or a playground full of children, who have the right to be leading lives untouched by these predators.

    I've read that Ted Turner originally commissioned this film, but when it was done refused to show it on his cable network. Too bad he lacked the courage to do the right thing -- and kudos to Showtime for stepping up to the plate and taking over. This is an outstanding film on a heartbreaking but vital topic -- and one that should be seen by more people. Heartfelt thanks to Anjelica Huston, and to everyone involved in bringing this wonderful novel to the screen....more info

  • I recommend this film
    This is a well-acted but very sad drama about a young single mother who marries a violent, abusive loser and refuses to leave him even when she can no longer deny what he is doing to her oldest daughter. All you can do is hate this man who can't hold a job, allows his family to starve, and repeatedly beats and rapes his stepdaughter while claiming that he loves her. The mother is equally frustrating when she won't get rid of this piece of garbage despite how dangerous and completely worthless he proves he is time after time. The pain, fear, anger, and hopelessness of the abused child is excruciating to watch. Anyone who has suffered any form of abuse as a child will be reminded of those feelings. I recommend this film because it very effectively illustrates the plight of abused children, something we should all be mindful of....more info