Little Pink House
Susette Kelo (Catherine Keener), recently divorced, finds a small fixer upper in a declining neighborhood of New London, Connecticut, and turns it into her home. But, the state government and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer have plans for the prime development properties and go to great legal lengths to take her “Little Pink House.”
Laura's Review: C
Making her feature debut, writer/director Courtney Balaker has chosen a great subject, that of a waterfront blue collar neighborhood in New London, Connecticut, whose homeowners found themselves up against the Supreme Court in an eminent domain case that sounds blatantly unlawful. When a Governor (Aaron Douglas) looking to put himself on the political map saw an opportunity to revitalize a city by drawing in Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, the company's demands extended beyond what they had been offered. Many reveled in the buyouts which ensued, but those, like EMT Susette Kelo (Catherine Keener), who wanted to remain in their homes were astonished that the state could force them out (eminent domain allows the taking of private property for public use). There's a lot of great drama to be found here, but the best thing about Balaker's film is how efficiently she establishes the close knit quality of Kelo's community. After that, the film artlessly shuttles back and forth between its David and Goliath as if on a timer, Jeanne Tripplehorn employing political doublespeak as the Governor's influencing mouthpiece Charlotte Wells. The film goes out on a high note, victory cheers obscuring the fact that the little guy lost. "Little Pink House" is an interesting tale, not well told. Grade:
Robin's Review: C+
Producer and first time feature writer-director Courtney Balaker takes on the important story of a David versus Goliath legal battle for the right of the individual to keep their home and hearth. In this case, the depressed neighborhood in New London is endangered by the state’s governor and a promised lucrative deal with Pfizer. Susette’s fight against this injustice is the center of the major, nationally-important court case, Kelo v. City of New London. Balaker gives a straightforward chronicle of the legal battle that begins with the seemingly innocent attempt to buy up the homes around Susette’s. She, who worked so hard as an EMT and nurse to restore her titular house, refuses to sell. The rest of the film is about the legal fight that went all the way to the US Supreme Court, ending in a 5-4 decision favoring the State of Connecticut and Pfizer. The earnest and heartfelt bringing to the big screen of Susette’s (and those around her) story is an honest, if inexperienced, effort by newcomer Balaker. The actors, led by Keener, are not given much depth of character. The good guys are the hard working blue collar folks in the hood and they are all nice and good. The bad guys, represented by Charlotte Wells (Jeanne Tripplehorn) as the ambitious corporate fixer, twirl their metaphoric moustaches with glee (including Charlotte), as they bilk the little guy for big profits. “Little Pink House” has its heart in the right place, fighting for our rights by telling Susette Kelo’s story. A more seasoned filmmaker could have given the it more depth and focus but I am glad I learned of this intriguing story of justice (or, injustice).