Colewell Review

Colewell (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

Colewell Review
Director: Tom Quinn
Writer: Tom Quinn
Stars: Karen Allen, Kevin J. O’Connor, Hannah Gross

You’ve just seen “Uncut Gems” and you feel the nerves raging through your body after watching this ultra-nervous film? Well, I recommend you to watch the film “Colewell“. Believe me. After watching this film, you’ll feel completely relaxed again. There are no situations full of agitated behaviour. No feverish activity. Everything is calm and peaceful. This cosy and pleasant film progresses at a leisurely pace. Like the gently rippling water in a quiet stream. Just about the pace of someone in old age who performs the same ritual every day and eagerly awaits his well-deserved retirement. Only Nora (Karen Allen) was not yet ready for that well-deserved rest that is now being forced upon her.

Nora is an older lady who runs a local post office in the small village of Colewell, somewhere in Pennsylvania. And trust me on this, when I say you can admire her morning routine several times. A morning where she will check the chicken coop for freshly laid eggs. And every time she checks the state of one of the laying hens because it’s upset because of newly added fellow hens and thus refuses to squeeze such a fragile object through her poopybutthole. Then it’s time for breakfast (with a firm omelette made with fresh eggs) and a getting dressed ritual before she opens the door of the post office (located at her place) to welcome the villagers. Everything is performed dutifully and meticulously. And I’m sure she did this from day one.

“Colewell” is about aging and the preservation of certain values of life. At the same time, it’s also about the fear of losing these certain values. And the rapidly changing world around us. When a decision is made to forget about certain post offices and integrate them into the larger whole, Nora sees those values disappearing like snow in the sun. The day after she’s being confronted with this terrible decision at the US Postal Service headquarters, she sinks into an emotional pit and consciously skips her daily rituals. As if it all no longer matters. The choices that were proposed to her are both not adequate solutions for her. Relocating to a larger city to work there at the post office. Or retire. Both are alternatives that Nora disregards.

The post office in Colewell has an additional function. It’s the meeting place for the local population. There’s gossiping, stockings are knitted, food is exchanged, and life stories shared. In short, it’s the heart of a community. And the members of this community are heartbroken when they are told that their beloved assembly point is about to disappear. Initiatives are being taken to turn the tide and efforts are being made to safeguard Nora’s workplace. But as soon as they realize that this is a futile effort, everyone accepts the situation and the social contacts move to other locations. To the dismay of Nora.

“Colewell” is endearing, serene and melancholic at the same time. A subdued drama about how it feels to grow older and then suddenly realize that your functional role has been played out and two arrogant younger people say this without hesitation in your face. Or you’ll be flexible, or you pack it up and make room for the future generation. A realistic character study, without frills. But not entirely. The moment Ella (Hannah Gross) shows up at Nora’s place, realism turns into vagueness. It’s not clear whether this is Nora’s free-spirited daughter or a figment of Nora’s imagination representing the younger Nora. Anyway. Do you like action-rich movies that are nerve-wracking exciting? Well, I suggest skipping this one. The easy-going nature of the film may well get on your nerves.

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