In tiny Colewell, Pennsylvania, the residents gather at the post office for mail and gossip, while the days pass quiet and serene. That is until news comes that the office is to close, and beloved clerk Nora (a marvelous Karen Allen) is left to fight for her job and reflect on the choices she has made that kept her in Colewell for so many years. Touching, with a hint of melancholy, Tom Quinn’s eloquent film is an ode to small-town life and the quiet emotions that come with nostalgia and memories of the past. As fears arise around her future and her past becomes ever more present, Nora states, “I don’t want to be lonely,” but what that means is elusive. Colewell gorgeously captures rural America, while giving space to the beauty of time passing and reflecting on what determines a life well lived.
Okay, this is definitely not aimed at the typical movie goer. Colewell is a quiet movies that in my opinion rewards the patient viewer. It isn't dramatic or suspenseful and a cynical reviewer would probably blurt out that nothing happens in it. It is more of a slice of life film, a character study. It is also a gentle commentary on the changes in society as companies have become bigger and bigger and drive smaller companies out of business. Post offices don't exactly fit into that model, but comparisons can be made. If you are older like I am you may remember the phrase "going postal." That was before this age of mass shootings everywhere, back when the stress and pressure of an enlarging and transforming postal service drove employees to extreme violence. Nowadays it feels like that growing trend was the canary in the coal mine, and we see that sort of stress and pressure everywhere in life. But there is no violence in this gentle character study, except for a few raised voices by townspeople who don't want to see their local post office close down. I write novels that start at point A and go to point B, so I am not a big fan of flashbacks in movies. But there is an interesting use of flashback here, and in fact I wish they went a bit farther with it concerning the main character's personal history. Anyway, I highly recommend this film, though I suggest you not watch it when you are weary, because quiet films often require a more focused viewing, without distractions or cat naps. Take a break halfway through it if you need to. It may be worth it to you also.