Abundant Acreage Available

The small tobacco farm in East Bend, North Carolina where Angus MacLachlan filmed the lean, elegiac drama Abundant Acreage Available is a vision of bygone rural life, a contained microcosm where hard work and self-reliance could sustain a family for generations. Cinematographer Andrew Reed captures the harsh beauty of post-harvest winter in sharp relief: crunchy stalks left in the field, the sky a crystalline blue. When Tracy Ledbetter (Amy Ryan) appears, she seems to be a natural part of the landscape.

That’s how Tracy feels, tied to the land where she is burying the ashes of her father, still in the plastic box provided by the crematorium. Her staunchly religious brother Jesse (Terry Kinney) argues that the remains should go in consecrated ground, even if it’s just the Triggerstrom family cemetery, dug by their predecessors on the 50-acre farm. As if summoned, three gray-haired Triggerstrom brothers materialize the next morning, their tent an alien outcropping on the barren terrain.

It’s a great horror movie setup, but MacLachlan (Goodbye to All That) looks kindly upon his mortality-minded characters. The alluring Hans (Max Gail) initiated their pilgrimage after his cancer diagnosis, garrulous Tom (Francis Guinan) survived a stroke and placid Charles (Steve Coulter), like the steely Tracy, is a long-suffering caregiver. After a lifetime of routine punctuated by loss, these aging adults fall back into roles as children and siblings. Treading common ground, they seek comfort in the suffocating succor of family, afraid to release the burdens that grief will unleash.

Review by Serena Donadoni
Released on September 29, 2017 by Gravitas Ventures
First published in The Village Voice, 2017.