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Desert Bloom

Teenager Annabeth Gish gives a wonderful performance in this small 1986 coming-of-age drama as a young girl dealing with the psychological fallout of one war while the world prepares for the literal fallout of another. Growing up in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the dawn of the nuclear age, Gish's bright Rose Chismore has enough to deal with what with boys and hormones, but she's also caught between an alcoholic stepdad (Jon Voight) suffering from World War II flashbacks and a hometown abuzz with impending atomic-weapons testing at a nearby desert base. Gish's sensitive and understated performance is a knockout and Voight is also excellent as the haunted patriarch Jack, who has all the makings for a caring and solid Ozzie Nelson-type dad, if only it weren't for his abusive flashes of psychosis. Filling out the strong cast are Jo Beth Williams as Rose's tenderly irresponsible mom and Ellen Barkin as her slutty aunt. Columbia TriStar's DVD release of Desert Bloom features an anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Includes a gallery of trailers for other Columbia movies. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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