here's what I think:
so, spoiled by the relatively forced narratives that are de rigeur in popular cinema, I didn't really feel my way into this one until right near the end.
it's like a Cormac McCarthy book as opposed to regular novels - a succession of landscapes that just happen to frame a patchwork story. I tried to get a grip on Gere, Adams and Shepard's stories, but they fell apart in my hands.
essentially, I figure, the way you have to watch this from Linda's point of view - which I guess I should have figured from her narration (reading up on this, it seems this was a way to stitch the disjointed patchwork together).
I guess you could call that a crutch for a film that got carried away by the cinematography to the detriment of the story, but if you watch it from the somewhat detatched position of Linda, like a child, it feels more natural to get caught up by the beauty of it all whilst letting the drama occur and then just moving straight on.
otherwise it can be quite jarring: the point at which they depart the farm is a real fissure in the plot, and yet the jaunty music is at totally at odds with the nature of what happened, almost totally ignorant of it, like it never happened.
although it's not as if the adults aren't at all compelling - Shepard is especially good, brooding and sympathetic; it's just that the way it's constructed doesn't do the central drama many favours.
yeah but what do you reckon?