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Hilary Birmingham's superb first feature screened at a handful of festivals in 2000, but it's the sort of quiet, intelligent heartland drama that has to fight for a general release--and given this fall's avalanche of movies, it may not be around for long. The title character, played with understated authority by Anson Mount, is a small-town Nebraska stud whose talent with the ladies can't conceal the fact that he's going nowhere fast. With his shy younger brother (Glenn Fitzgerald), Tully works the family farm, though he's constantly locking horns with their joyless, taciturn father (Bob Burrus), who's never got over the loss of their mother more than a decade earlier and who resents his elder son's footloose attitude toward life. Skinny, freckled Julianne Nicholson is wonderful as Tully's platonic girlfriend; though her honesty and insight make her enormously sexy, she's the only woman in town who commands his respect. Birmingham and coscreenwriter Matt Drake adapted a short story by Tom McNeal, elaborating on its plot but beautifully capturing its low-key poeticism. Landmark's Century Centre.

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