Set in upstate New York during the Civil War, "Copperhead" is an adaption of an 1893 Harold Frederic novel that concerns itself not with North versus South so much as the less-discussed disagreements among those ostensibly on the same side of history. Farmer Abner Beech (
That Hagadorn is so consumed by his beliefs as to become an intractable zealot even in the name of a just cause makes a villain of a character one might expect to be the hero. (You half-expect the filmmakers to pop on screen to say, "See what we did there?") The film was directed by Ron Maxwell, who has refashioned himself as a chronicler of Civil War fiction with "Gettysburg" and "Gods and Generals" after an earlier career made up of the likes of "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" and "Little Darlings." The film's real point of view, however, comes more directly from Bill Kaufman, an author whose books include titles such as "Ain't My America" and "Look Homeward, America," here writing his first screenplay.
Where Tony Kushner's screenplay for
MPAA rating: PG-13 for an unsettling sequence.
Running time: 2 hours.
Playing: At Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena.