Pharoah's Army

on August 01, 2008 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
   Screened at Montreal. The Civil War provides the backdrop for a character study involving a decent Union captain (Chris Cooper) and a bitter Southern woman (Patricia Clarkson) whose farm his unit commandeers for food and supplies while her husband is off fighting for the Confederates. The two distrust each other, but outside events force them to reexamine long-held beliefs and animosities.
   The intent of Henson, who has made documentaries but never a fictional feature before, is to shade the two sides and show that good and evil can't be so easily designated, and "Pharoah's Army" (loosely based on fact) can't be faulted on that score. It's honest and unsentimental, but it lacks grit and rawness and plays more like a finely mounted TV MOW. The cast is good, but they're not given full rein to flesh out their characterizations; too often it seems they're dressed in period garb but not inhabiting their roles. "Pharoah's Army" is intelligent but never digs deep.    Starring Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson and Kris Kristofferson. Directed and written by Robby Henson. Produced by Doug Lodato and Robby Henson. A CFP release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 90 min.
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