Netflix Update No. 25: “My Louisiana Sky”

December 29, 2009

Michael Cera as Jesse Wade Thompson and Kelsey Keel as Tiger Ann Parker in "My Louisiana Sky"

We watched a 2001 children’s movie from Showtime, “My Louisiana Sky,” and we weren’t surprised afterward to learn that it had won numerous awards — including the Andrew Carnegie Award and three daytime Emmys — and had been  nominated for more.


Based on a novel by Kimberly Willis Holt, the story concerns Tiger, a 12-year-old girl, who lives on a farm in Louisiana with her mentally handicapped parents — Corinna and Lonnie Parker — and her maternal grandmother, Jewel Ramsey. Corinna (Amelia Campbell) is childlike, less mature now than her own daughter, and Lonnie (Chris Owens) is barely literate but is savvy enough to not only hold down a job on a nearby farm but to win the trust and respect of the owner. Jewel (Shirley Knight) keeps the house, maintains order, and does per-diem farm work — sometimes with the help of Tiger (Kelsey Keel), to earn some cash.


There is one prodigal family member — Jewel’s other daughter, Dorie, played by the redoubtable Juliette Lewis — who has left rural life behind for a career in Baton Rouge.

Tiger experiences isolation and rejection because  of the way other children regard her parents. The only child who pursues a friendship with her is Jesse Wade Thompson (Michael Cera), and Tiger has trouble accepting his exuberance. When life at home deteriorates, she considers but does not leap at the prospect offered by Dorie of a comfortable and exciting life in the city.


While adults may find it simplistic, the portrayal of a girl deciding where her true happiness lies can be a valuable object lesson for children.

Under the direction of Adam Arkin — whose brother Anthony is married to Amelia Campbell — every cast member delivers a strong performance. Arkin and Kelsey Keel won two of the Emmys.


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