The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

Terry Ryan's 2001 memoir The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio paid tribute to her mother, Evelyn, an Irish Catholic housewife who helped support her ten children by winning a series of TV jingle-writing contests. This screen adaptation never quite jells, veering from family drama to stale 50s consumer kitsch, but it's anchored by strong performances from Julianne Moore as the title character and Woody Harrelson as her prize loser of a husband, an alcoholic machinist who keeps drinking up the milk money. Their loving but seriously compromised marriage is the most interesting and moving aspect of the story, undermined throughout by the script's rigid feminist agenda. Jane Anderson directed; with Laura Dern. PG-13, 99 min.

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