At least the dialogue is smartly written and the scenery is lovingly photographed (by two-time Academy Award-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler). Like a good anthropologist, Sayles successfully depicts the rituals, work routines, and habits that make up his characters' daily lives. His camera catches the crude crucifixes on the cottage walls; his microphone records the carefully researched dialects and colorful phrases his characters speak. As expected, the effort is genuine. Too bad Sayles is more concerned with showing us how well he did his homework than he is with entertaining us or making us feel as strongly about the value of a wee bit o' gab as he does.