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Review: ‘Little Pink House’ muddles an important story of eminent domain

Catherine Keener in the movie "Little Pink House."
Catherine Keener in the movie “Little Pink House.”
(Ricardo Hubbs)

Writer-director Courtney Moorehead Balaker taps a pair of powerful actresses to face off in her film “Little Pink House,” which depicts a real-life battle surrounding eminent domain laws.

Catherine Keener stars as Susette Kelo, a paramedic who returns to her Connecticut hometown of New London, renovates her little pink house, and finds love with the local handyman and junk dealer. But soon, she’s fighting to keep her home from being seized by the government.

Her foe is Charlotte Ward (Jeanne Tripplehorn), a college president tapped by the governor to woo Pfizer in order to revitalize struggling New London, and shine up the governor’s résumé.

“Little Pink House” has the potential to be an “Erin Brockovich” for Keener, a wonderfully grounded performer. However, she’s unmoored in this film, which can’t decide if it’s a small-town indie romance, a political corruption thriller or a courtroom drama. It meanders wildly before stuffing all of the meaty parts, including the Supreme Court case, into the last 15 minutes of the film. It’s confusing and inconsistent, and no amount of Keener can truly anchor it.

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The case of Kelo v. New London is an important one, and the film doesn’t end the way you might expect. “Little Pink House” shines a light on this issue but isn’t entirely successful in its execution.

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‘Little Pink House’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

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Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena; Edwards Westpark 8, Irvine

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