Wrestling with Alligators


Bottom 20% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

1998 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Dramatic Competition


Joely Richardson, Aleska Palladino, Adrienne Shelly, Claire Bloom, Jay O. Sanders, Thomas Guiry

Non-Cast Credits

Laurie Weltz, Marcia Kirkley, Mindy Affrime, Tim Buxton, Cat Villiers, Scott Kraft, Richard Dallett, Donna Stern, pam Shamshiri, Andrew Hollander


In Wrestling with Alligators, director Laurie Welts has lovingly constructed a story around the intertwined lives of four women living in a boarding house in a sleepy seaside hamlet and the experiences that impact them right before America officially experiences the sixties, It is Indian summer of 1959, and America is on the verge of change. No one is feeling it more than Maddy, the youngest of the clan. She is trying to balance the shift in society against the changea in her teenage body. A tomboy mechanic, she is a runaway from the swamps of Florida, and fate has landed her on the doorstep of Lulu, a fading silent screen star who owns the rambling rooming house. Maddy doesn't always understand the antics of her older "sisters," Claire, the widowed French war bride, or Mary, who is deserting the nest to get married. Even though these women are not related by blood, Maddy's longing for family keeps them together. And she is the catalyst that helps them face the world with determination and power.

Welts and a fine cast collaborate to create this lush cinematic experience. There is sonething sublime about the period colors and locations, but just as you are lulled into nostalgic reminiscence, the film hits you with real dilemmas such as coping with an unwanted pregnancy, societal pressure, and the stifling fifties conservatism that ruled this "age of innocence." Beautifully conceived and executed, Wrestling with Alligators is a refreshingly truthful depiction of human issues and a group of women forced into new ways of thinking not by fashion but for their own survival.


John Cooper (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.