King of the Hill | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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King of the Hill

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A lovely piece of work, this 1993 adaptation of A.E. Hotchner's childhood memoirs takes place in Saint Louis in 1933, roughly three decades before director Steven Soderbergh was born, but its portrait of life during the Depression is pungent and wholly believable. Soderbergh gets an uncommonly good lead performance out of Jesse Bradford as the resourceful 12-year-old hero, who's living in a seedy hotel and steadily losing the members of his family: his kid brother (Cameron Boyd) is shipped off to an uncle and his mother (Lisa Eichhorn) to a sanitarium, while his German father (Jeroen Krabbe) tries to make some money as a door-to-door watch salesman. We also learn a fair amount about the boy's neighbors (Spalding Gray, Elizabeth McGovern, Adrien Brody) and schoolmates, and Soderbergh keeps the story interesting and engaging without stooping to sentimentality. A 35-millimeter print will be shown. 103 min. Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, Saturday, February 9, 6:15 and 8:15, and Wednesday, February 13, 6:00, 312-846-2800.

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