Sweet Land
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After the death of his grandmother, Lars Torvik (Stephen Pelinski) looks back on his grandmother’s life and recalls the story she once told him about how she came to Minnesota to marry a man she’d never met.

Though she speaks very little English, Inge (Elizabeth Reaser) travels from Norway to Minnesota to meet Olaf Torvik (Tim Guinee), the farmer who’s supposed to become her husband. Once she arrives, she meets Olaf and his friend and neighbor, Frandsen (Alan Cumming)—who picks her up from the train station and drives the couple right to the church for their wedding ceremony. Before the two can be married, however, Minister Sorrensen (John Heard) finds all kinds of reasons why he can’t marry them. For one thing, Inge has no immigration papers. And she doesn’t even speak enough English to participate in the ceremony. And, worst of all, he discovers that Inge is actually German—and, as a result, since post-war relations with Germany are shaky at best, no one in the small farming community trusts the newcomer. They worry that she could be some sort of spy—or that she’ll corrupt their quiet, religious community. So, without her papers, no one is willing to marry Inge and Olaf—or, for that matter, associate with them.

While Inge waits for her papers to arrive from Germany, she stays at the farm next door—with Frandsen, his wife, Brownie (Alex Kingston), and their nine children. She tries to adjust to life in Minnesota—as well as to her quiet, hard-working husband-to-be, who stands by her, even though he barely knows her.

Sweet Land tells a sweet story about falling in love under the most difficult of circumstances. It’s captivating and beautiful—and once the story begins (after the initial set-up, which seems a bit longer and more complex than necessary), it grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.

Elizabeth Reaser plays the part of young Inge beautifully, helping the audience fully understand her character—even though she says very little (and what she does say is rarely in English). While the film doesn’t explain Inge’s reasons for leaving Europe to marry a stranger, it’s not hard to understand what she’s going through once she arrives—how confused and overwhelmed and nervous she must be. Guinee also gives an impressive performance, playing Olaf with quiet strength. You’re sure to fall in love with both characters—and you’ll be enchanted by their story.

Sweet Land is currently being released to a limited number of theaters. If it makes its way to a theater near you, don’t hesitate to bring someone you love to see this heart-warming film. If not, be sure to see it when it’s released on DVD in April.

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