Movie review of “Big Stone Gap”: This romantic dramedy, starring Ashley Judd as “the old maid of Big Stone Gap,” is greeting-card pretty, sweet and edge-free. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.

Share story

“I’ve loved you since the sixth grade.” That, followed by the delivery of a great big smooch on the adored one’s adorable lips.

How should one respond to such a situation? “Big Stone Gap” will tell you how, by cracky. With massed cheers, wild applause and a misty eye or three.

This is a picture that comes with its own built-in cheering section.

Movie Review ★★  

‘Big Stone Gap,’ with Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson, Whoopi Goldberg. Written and directed by Adriana Trigiani. 103 minutes. Rated PG-13 for brief suggestive material. Several theaters.

The time is 1978 and the lead character, Ave Maria Mulligan (Ashley Judd), announces herself as “the old maid of Big Stone Gap.” She’s 40, runs the local drugstore and is a friend to all in the little Virginia coal-mining town of the title, which is writer-director Adriana Trigiani’s hometown.

Town tongues have been wagging at her single state for years. There’s a sexy miner (Patrick Wilson) who’s been sweet on her, and a fellow who works with her in amateur-theatrical productions (John Benjamin Hickey). Will sweet Ave find true love in the end? Do you really have to ask?

The town is full of quirky characters, including a store clerk (Whoopi Goldberg) who stands on the sidelines dispensing sardonic observations about the foibles of quirked-up others.

It’s tempting to say “Big Stone Gap” is greeting-card pretty and sweet, but that doesn’t quite fit because these days greeting cards seem to have developed a bit of an edge. “Big Stone Gap” is edge-free.