Country life goes from bad to worse in “Runoff,” an American indie that could have made some interesting moral points about agribusiness practices, but gets plowed under by a series of melodramatic events.
Joanne Kelly is admirably down-to-Earth, until it moves too much beneath her character Betty's feet, as a Kentucky mom whose husband is secretively losing both the farm and his health. When she learns the truth and rightly figures action must be taken, an illegal chemical dumping scheme brings some oomph to the leisurely paced, predictable proceedings. But not enough.
The “now what?” snicker factor that builds up is unfortunate, since it distracts from some truly impressive qualities first-time writer-director Kimberly Levin brings to the show. Her eye nicely transitions from Malick-like nature worship to a convincing look at how working farms, well, work. And some of the relationship details, especially between Betty and her eldest, artistically inclined son, can be satisfyingly specific and touching. Levin has a lot to offer when she's not cultivating tragic farm movie cliches.
Screens again at 1:30 p.m. June 15.
For more LA Film Festival news and reviews during the festival, be sure to check out www.dailynews.com/la-film-festival.