LITTLE PINK HOUSE – Review by Martha K. Baker

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little pink house posterLittle Pink House is a subdued look at a hated judicial ruling. This is one for the Supreme Court: in a 5-4 decision, Kelo v. City of New London (Conn.) judges gave officials of the city government the right, the power, to raze a neighborhood so a corporation, not a hospital or a library but a multi-million-dollar corporation, could benefit. That neighborhood happens to be where Susette Kelo bought a ramshackle house in 2000 and painted it pink. She had no idea that her property would interest the fine folks at the Pfizer Corp. Its officers came to New London, enticed by the mayor and by a public relations agent, to develop on waterfront property.

This happened just prior to Pfizer’s marketing a little blue pill to effect erections in flaccid men. Kelo and her neighbors fought and fought against the illegal use of eminent domain. Kelo, an EMT nurse, was dragooned into being the face of the fight despite her soft-spoken manner, but Kelo is no Erin Brockovitch.

Therein lies the problem with translating this true story into art: writer/director Courtney Balaker remains true to the story on which Little Pink House is based. That means a tight chronological order, complete with dates in the frames’ corners; a subdued history, complete with the arc of justice bending towards greed; and less than flashy characters, folks like you and me.

Catherine Keener does her best as Susette Kelo, but her hair has more energy than her body. Jeanne Tripplehorn plays the PR woman, a suit with darts. They are well supported by Callum Keith Rennie as Kelo’s man friend and Giacomo Baessato as the young lawyer.

Balaker ends Little Pink House with film from life as if to prove that this ruling, called the most hated in Supreme Court history, actually happened and to remind viewers that the battle continues to keep eminent domain in check.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Little Pink House is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week.

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Martha K. Baker (Archived Contributor)

I first taught film at Lakeland College in Wisconsin in 1969 and became a professional film reviewer in 1976 in St. Louis, Mo. Through the years, I have reviewed films for the St. Louis Business Journal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Episcopal Life, and KWMU (NPR), among other outlets. I've reviewed at KDHX radio, my current outlet, for nearly 20 years.