A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Rural Oklahoma. Town named Kingfisher. A woman named Ainsley sits in the convenience store by the road, watching strangers on their way through. She works in a hamburger shop. She's lonely. Through a magazine, she gets into correspondence with a prisoner, and when he gets out he comes to see her. They get married.
This time and place are evoked with quiet, atmospheric shots in Tim Blake Nelson's "Eye of God," a film in which dreams seem to yearn toward a place where they can grow. Kingfisher is a boring place that is a boring drive from other places just as boring. Ainsley (Martha Plimpton) likes people and would like to know more of them, but her opportunities are limited and her desperation makes her see the ex-convict as salvation.
Well, he looks wholesome enough. Jack (Kevin Anderson, a Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble member) is straightforward and sincere, looks her in the eye, tells her how he found Jesus in prison. At first their marriage looks as if it will work. Then his controlling side takes over. He doesn't want her working. Doesn't want her hanging out at the truck stop. Doesn't want her to leave the house, indeed, except to go to church with him on Sunday. It's ironic: Her life was empty and barren before, and by marrying him, she's losing what little variety she was able to find.
The film tells this story in flashes of action, intercut with another story involving a local 14-year-old named Tommy (Nick Stahl) whose mother gassed herself. Now he lives with an aunt, who can't control him. He's trapped in the town, too. "Eye of God" works in a fractured style, telling both films out of chronological order, cutting between them in a way that's disorienting at first, as it's meant to be.