Crossing Fields

Why is fortysomething Jessica (Gwynyth Walsh) screwing all the men in church-going, white-bread Ashton? Everyone knows about the affair her husband's been having but by the lights of this rural, Midwestern enclave, if Jessica were the right kind of wife her spouse wouldn't be straying. While Jess is acting up, James (William James Jones), a young, studly black man comes to board with her best friend, Carol (Reedy Gibbs). James spreads his joy.

Nailing the double standard and sex panic are the missions of writer-director James Rosenow's first feature. The film moves at the snail's pace of life in Ashton, and its promotion of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll as antidotes to conservative pieties is served like a sex-ed bromide. Nonetheless, interest builds in the central women characters, with Walsh and Gibbs delivering finely tuned performances. Though disappointed by each other, the women are real to one another in ways neither is to anyone else. Rosenow exposes the deprivations of domesticity and shows how, in this world, female friendship is the ongoing, subversive alternative.

 
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