Colewell is a quiet movie about gratitude, as well as a depressing portrayal of uncontrollable change.
The story and its conflict appears small to the naked eye, but indie filmmaker Tom Quinn asks his audience to closely examine the rural community of Colewell, Pennsylvania. We observe the daily routines of Nora Pancowski (Karen Allen), Colewell’s humble postmaster. Along with utilizing the usual duties of a postal service, the small community has made Nora’s office a common area to congregate. As someone who leads a modest life and enjoys company, the everyday gatherings offer another purpose for Nora.
But writer/director Quinn offers an immediate problem for the community. The USPS have decided to make some updates to their services, which includes redistributing mail routes and closing down specific offices including Nora’s. According to their plan, the USPS believes they have implemented a more personal program, providing Colewell with direct delivery. What they don’t realize is how much of a local staple the post office is, and how the community’s livelihoods depend on it; including Nora who has been asked to relocate and change her position or retire.
As soon as the USPS swoops in on the town, movie goers receive a sinking feeling. No matter what the people of Colewell do, this plan for redistribution is already in motion – not even a miracle will stop this new strategy. Though, a town hall meeting featuring outspoken inhabitants of Colewell is encouraging and fills the audience with warmth. It doesn’t take much for the audience to sympathize with Nora. Even though the film’s post-production relies on sad string instruments and lingering shots of Nora’s hopelessness to make us feel emotional for her, Allen’s pensive performance is effectively delicate and sweet on its own. Tom Quinn’s locked-off filmmaking feels very authentic too; allowing the stillness around Nora to transform from minimalist beauty to melancholic sombreness as her heart breaks through the process of closing down.
By no means is Colewell a light watch, but it’s oddly meditative through its sadness.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie