A Thousand Acres is a 1997 American drama film directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse and starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jason Robards.
It is an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Jane Smiley, which itself is a reworking of William Shakespeare's King Lear. The character of Larry Cook corresponds to the title character of that play, while the characters of Ginny, Rose and Caroline represent Lear's daughters Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. The dramatic catalyst in both works is the division of the father's estate among his three offspring, causing bitter rivalry and ultimately leading to tragedy.
Larry Cook (Jason Robards), a prosperous farmer in Iowa, decides to retire and split his acres of land among his three daughters, Ginny (Jessica Lange), Rose (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Caroline (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Ginny and Rose happily accept the lucrative agreement to live and work on the farm but Caroline abandons farming for a law career in Des Moines and refuses to take part in the deal.
Larry is consumed with rage and rejects Caroline, leaving Rose and Ginny to go about running the farm with their husbands (Keith Carradine and Kevin Anderson). However, as Larry loses touch with farming life, he begins to lose touch with reality, and his painful descent into senility leaves him bitterly opposed to his daughters' ways of running the farm.
As she struggles to maintain the farm, Ginny encounters a rift in her relationship with Rose, who reveals that Larry had sexually abused her when she was a child, and insists that he had done the same thing to Ginny. The two women also develop a strong extra-marital attachment to Jess (Colin Firth), the handsome son of a neighboring farmer who is loyal to Larry.
Paranoid and disillusioned, Larry decides to sue Rose and Ginny in an effort to regain his patriarchal control, and seeks Caroline's help. The lawsuit divides the family forever, leaving Rose and Ginny to suffer alone while realizing painful truths about their childhood. As Rose and Ginny discover their own individual strengths in the face of adversity, they learn how to survive on their own, without the protection of the farm and the suffocating presence of their father.
- Michelle Pfeiffer as Rose Cook Lewis
- Jessica Lange as Ginny Cook Smith
- Jason Robards as Larry Cook
- Jennifer Jason Leigh as Caroline Cook
- Colin Firth as Jess Clark
- Keith Carradine as Ty Smith
- Kevin Anderson as Peter Lewis
- Pat Hingle as Harold Clark
- John Carroll Lynch as Ken LaSalle
- Anne Pitoniak as Mary Livingstone
- Vyto Ruginis as Charles Carter
- Michelle Williams as Pammy
- Elisabeth Moss as Linda
- Ray Toler as Marv Carson
- Kenneth Tigar as Doctor
- Steve Key as Loren Clark
- Dan Conway as Henry Dodge
- Stan Cahill as Frank
- Ray Baker as Wallace Crockett
- Beth Grant as Roberta
- Andrea Nittoli as Waitress