Geography is destiny. Even in the land of opportunity, the place where you are born and brought up has a lot to do with determining your future. And if that place is Van Buren, Maine, a fading agricultural town on the Canadian border, there is not much of a future to look forward to.
This is the dour world of “Beneath the Harvest Sky.” For teenagers unlucky enough to grow up there, the desire to leave is a driving force. But Boston, the nearest big city, might as well be on another planet.
Filmed in a quasidocumentary style using handheld cameras, extreme close-ups and a muddy palette, this slice of regional life aspires to be a northern New England answer to “The Last Picture Show.” Its protagonists — the cocky, hotheaded Casper (Emory Cohen) and the even-tempered Dominic (Callan McAuliffe), both 17 and best friends since childhood — face three choices: accept a lifetime of grueling, low-wage farm work; run drugs back and forth across the Canadian border; or flee.
Because Casper and Dominic’s relationship is the center of the movie, other key characters remain underdeveloped. Casper’s father, Clayton (Aidan Gillen), is
a small-time crook who smuggles in Canadian pharmaceuticals. The operation is a family affair that involves Clayton’s brother (Timm Sharp), who is
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pressured by drug-enforcement agents to gather evidence against Clayton.
“Beneath the Harvest Sky” reaches a dramatic climax that is so confusing, you are left scratching your head. But for all its missteps, the film feels authentic.