Film

“Little Pink House” Is Like “Erin Brockovich” for Eminent Domain

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Courtney Balaker’s Little Pink House dramatizes a true story of working-class America under attack: Big money, big pharma, and big government want to huff and puff and blow down working-class houses in pursuit of money. After leaving a broken marriage, Susette Kelo (Catherine Keener) finds peace and a new identity in her fixer-upper with a river view. But her happily-ever-after barely begins when she’s served with an eviction notice. It’s up to scrappy underdog Susette to stand up to everyone and eventually bring her housing case to the Supreme Court.

Inspired by Jeff Benedict’s book, Little Pink House offers one-note enemies for Susette to rail against. The most formidable is pearl-loving Charlotte Wells (Jeanne Tripplehorn), the ambitious nonprofit leader bent on razing the neighborhood for a new Pfizer campus. Balaker pits Susette and Charlotte against each other as women with vastly different economic backgrounds but equal ambition: Susette seals deals over pizza and beer while Charlotte dines on lobster and champagne. Unfortunately, the script makes them sometimes seem more like figureheads than actual people. When Charlotte claims the new development will be “hip,” Susette quickly quips, “You mean High Income People, hip?”

Like Erin Brockovich for eminent domain, Little Pink House does well to explain the thorny legal issue at its center without getting bogged down in minutiae. Although Susette’s story unfolds in small-town Connecticut, Balaker hammers the point home: This could happen anywhere.

Little Pink House
Directed by Courtney Balaker
Korchula Productions
Opens April 20, Village East Cinema

 

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