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The Boston Globe

Movies

Movie Review

In ‘Beneath the Harvest Sky,’ down east is done right

The freshest, most authentic aspects of “Beneath the Harvest Sky” are the film’s locations — the farming towns of Aroostook County, along the border of northernmost Maine and Canada — and its clear-eyed view of hardscrabble lives there. There are too few dramas set in America’s rural underclass, and “Sky” joins “Winter’s Bone” (2010) and “Frozen River” (2008) in casting a spotlight on back-country poverty and the struggle to escape it.

In almost all other respects, this narrative debut from the Maine-based husband-wife documentary team of Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly travels down roads rutted by dozens of other movies about a good kid, his hotheaded best friend, and the frustrations and temptations they face. The genre’s bones were laid down by Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro in “Mean Streets,” but while “Beneath the Harvest Sky” aims for some of the restless visual style of a Scorsese on the St. John, the film’s length and portentousness render it a lesser Springsteen song.

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