Ever since his exquisite 1994 debut feature, Where the Rivers Flow North, the Vermont-based writer-director Jay Craven has devoted himself to filming the work of the acclaimed regional novelist Howard Frank Mosher. Here, Craven doesn't quite get his grip all the way around Mosher's Prohibition-era tale of father (Kris Kristofferson) and son (Charlie McDermott) bootleggers traversing the Canadian border. The movie is pocked by odd touches of comedy (a whiskey-guzzling monk) and mysticism (a cursed, shape-shifting villain) that one suspects worked better on the page. But as usual in Craven's films, there are many strong performances (Kristofferson, Gary Farmer as a jovial uncle, and Geneviève Bujold as a superstitious grandmother) and the kind of richly evocative landscape photography one associates with the work of Carroll Ballard or Terrence Malick. (Note: Director Craven will conduct Q&As following the Friday evening shows.)
Kristofferson promises McDermott he'll never never do another Blade sequel.
Opens at Metro, Fri., May 4. Rated PG-13. 103 minutes.