Gal Young Un: Victor Nunez Directing Debut, basedMarjorie Kinnan Rawlings Story

Victor Nunez’s first feature, Gal Young Un, which he wrote, directed, shot, and edited, helped to shape regional cinema within the larger independent movement.

The film is set in the Prohibition Era of the 1920s, in Florida’s backwoods country, light years away from the fancy resorts along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. The period details are striking, particularly Nunez’ camera work and Charles Engstrom’s country music score.

Based on Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’s 1932 story, Gal Young Un is a comedy about a robust woman of substantial reserves. Mattie (Dana Preu, an English professor who had never acted before), a middle-aged widow, lives alone in the pinewoods, having given up society. Mattie works for her immediate needs, pays her bills on time, smokes a pipe to relax, but she has given up on social lifeor even society.

Into her life comes Trax (David Peck), a no-good womanizer with a gift for gab and gallantry. Trax courts Mattie, who’s old enough to be his mother, for her money, and she, charmed by his courtship and youthful energy, accepts his proposal. It is a peculiar marriage; Trax is always threatening to leave, essentially blackmailing Mattie. He his time in the big cities, living high on her profits, coming home only to pick up another load of liquor and leave his laundry. Mattie bides her time, but it’s clear that she won’t be bested by him.

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