At 2:00 p.m. every Tuesday, Tammy beats Gene with a tennis racquet. It’s his penance. In retrospect, he shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions about the pistachio nut. Meanwhile, Pearl is having doubts. An orphaned eight-year-old in the care of her uncle, she has unwittingly eaten pot brownies and begins to suspect that the tooth fairy isn’t real. Finally, there’s Ralph, a man of privilege who, somewhere between bites 23 and 27 of his steak, comes to a startling revelation: he doesn’t know any black people. Don’t be alarmed. It’s just another day in Anywhere, USA.
Told in three parts ("Penance," "Loss," and "Ignorance"), Chusy Haney-Jardine’s wildly original snapshot of <i>du jour</i> America is such an audacious, personal expression of vision that you occasionally feel as if it’s being projected directly from his brain. Haney-Jardine delights in theatricality, burlesque images, and wonderfully mismatched devices (rednecks frolicking as Puccini blares or an entire story line narrated by two women gossiping at a tanning salon). And for all its humor, the film observes life with tenderness and humanity, finding an emotional center in Pearl and her uncle.
Here’s a film that takes real risks and reaps the rewards tenfold. Shot in Haney-Jardine's hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, edited in his garage, and featuring an almost entirely nonprofessional cast (his daughter, Perla, is the sole exception), Anywhere, USA wears its independence like a battering ram that gently knocks at your door.