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Hale County This Morning, This Evening

The poetic nonfiction film about an Alabama county is currently in theaters.

Alissa Wilkinson covers film and culture for Vox. Alissa is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

Metacritic score: 83

As much poem as documentary, RaMell Ross’s Hale County This Morning, This Evening is the sort of film for which the word “lyrical” was invented. Ross, who started his career as a large-format photographer, carefully assembles hours of footage he shot while living in Hale County, Alabama — water dripping down a baby’s stomach, kids goofing off in a parking lot, church congregants singing during mass, old houses, insects, and more. Together, they act as brushstrokes to create a portrait of a community, capturing a way of life in a place burdened by history.

In the few instances that Ross uses text on screen, the sentences are as carefully, elegantly structured as the images, carrying narrative and emotional weight that’s deeply affecting. Hale County This Morning, This Evening is a major work, and a richly rewarding one.

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