directed by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher
October Country is as honest a portrait of an American family (or any family, for that matter) that you are sure to find in recent years, lovingly yet devastatingly realized by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher. This doc tells the tale of the Moshers, a down and out family in New York State coping with abuse, trauma and emotional withdrawal, seemingly doomed to replay a pattern of tragic misfortune to the end times. Told over the course of one year (Halloween to Halloween), October Country unfolds like a wrenching tapestry comprising what it means to be a family, what it means to have it rough and what it means to endure, even in the darkest of times. Estrangement, loss and betrayal intermingle with love, affection and, in the case of the vibrant and perceptive Desi, a lust for life that acts as a brilliant and much needed ray of light into the gloom. The visual flourishes are hauntingly beautiful; quiet and magnificent tableaus that comment on the almost existential questions posed by the trials of Donal’s family. Are people fated to relive past horrors, predisposed, even doomed, to suffer forever at the hands of a cruel, cosmic mobius strip? These are heavy, burdening things to contemplate, but October Country shines a light on the power that people have to tow the line and manage through situations that most of us would consider overwhelming, even hopeless. This phenomenal doc will leave you solemn, yet satisfied, but I have said this before about other films: if you are simply in the mood for a bit of light viewing, stick a pin in this one. If you are up for it, though, you will not be disappointed.