“Baraboo” - A Moseying Stroll Through Rural Wisconsin
The film tells the story of six residents of a rustic motel in Baraboo, a small Wisconsin town. Jane, the motel’s owner, struggles with the teenage rebellion of her son Chris, whose trajectory reads somewhat like an after-school special. Isolated war veteran Bob wrestles with his Gulf War syndrome and his feelings for Jane.
Ludell, the motel’s housekeeper, devotes her time to helping her adult son Ben manage his mental disability. When the elderly Bernice sells her farm to live at the motel, she begins meddling in the other residents’ lives in order to bring them together, but she may need them just as much as they need her.
The story is a moseying stroll down the rural Baraboo streets. With few twists and turns along the way, the plot feels slow and plodding. While "Baraboo" is an interesting portrait of a world that is far-removed from typical Hollywood blockbuster fare, the production is much too indulgent to the real world subtleties it attempts to embody.
A captivating musical score and honest acting do much to salvage the film, though many scenes, such as that of Bernice looking out the window while violins play, attempt to sabotage the otherwise subtle style.
Despite the name, “Baraboo” could take place in any nameless midwestern town. Each scene ends with extraneous views of the Wisconsin landscape juxtaposed with oversized shots of the moon or rising sun.
While these details can be beautiful, the story isn’t about the town – it’s about the people who have shaped their lives in it.