The episodic events of Ociee Nash
Review: The Adventures of Ociee Nash
|Ociee (Skyler Day) plays with her beloved dog, Woofer, in Ociee Nash.|
A stick becomes a sword. A dog becomes a lion. A sea of action figures becomes an unstoppable army. There are few forces that are as boundless as a child's imagination. To a child, the woods can evolve and morph into a wild and dangerous jungle, or become a distant planet large and as mysterious as the universe itself. Everyday is a new quest of the child's choosing.
It's this bit of magic that is ultimately missing from the recent DVD release The Adventures of Ociee Nash.
The lone female on her family's Mississippi farm, Ociee Nash (Skyler Day) is a tomboy whose willingness to seek out excitement at every turn has caused Papa Nash (Keith Carradine) to worry. Fearing, that without a woman's touch, Ociee will never be a proper young lady, Papa concludes that sending Ociee to live with her Aunt Mamie (Mare Winningham) in North Carolina is the wisest course of action. It's in Asheville that Papa hopes Ociee will shed her rough and tumble exterior.
Ironically, Ociee never exhibits much of a rough and tumble exterior. Truth be told, she's probably the cleanest tomboy ever put to film. Even after wrestling another girl to the ground in one scene, Ociee pops up, sans grass stains, dirt and bruises, her ever present pigtails intact. At one point her brother voices his fear that Ociee will return home "sissified." Unfortunately for her brother, the filmmakers had started the sissifying process long before she ever left for Asheville.
I impatiently waited for Ociee to drag me along into one adventure after another. What child could resist the temptation of a gypsy's wagon? What nooks and crannies must Asheville have? Even Aunt Mamie's house, which has to be filled with strange odds and ends, is left unexplored.
Yet, why should Ociee be motivated to discover the world around her, when the world continuously comes to her? On her trip north to Asheville, Ociee meets President McKinley, the Wright Brothers and Nellie Bly, all without ever venturing more than 50 feet from the train. Even the gypsy Ociee befriends early in the movie, absent any motivating reason, travels 500 miles to appear at the right time and in just the right place to play a pivotal role.
Every beautifully shot frame (the cinematography, locations and period pieces are gorgeous) offers an adult's view of Ociee's story, but never did I feel like I was watching the story Ociee would want to tell. What kind of movie would Ociee have been if in those first few beats we had seen the Gypsy through Ociee's eyes? A great bear of a man, whose feral mane of hair frames his face and flows across his broad shoulders, appears at the wagon's door. How could such a large man fit in such a small space Ociee wonders? His milk-cloud eye scans the horizon as his other-wordly gypsy abilities allow him to see the un-seeable. Ociee cannot hide and she knows it. Yet, he can't keep his wagon's secrets from her. She's Ociee Nash and she fears neither beast nor man nor tree.
Unfortunately, it takes more than pretty dresses and beautiful scenery to see the true beauty and strength in Ociee's story.
Charles Judson is a local screen and comic book writer and regular reviewer for cinemATL.
The Adventures of Ociee Nash
Rating: (2 out of 4)
Directed by: Kristen McGary
Written by: Amy McGary, Kristen McGary (based on the novel "A Flower Blooms on Charlotte Street" by Milam McGraw Propst)
Starring: Keith Carradine, Mare Winningham, Skyler Day, Ty Pennington, Tom Key
The Adventures of Ociee Nash
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