Jane Anderson can’t help referencing March of the Penguins when she discusses the tenacious heroine at the center of Ohio, a true-life drama about homemaker Evelyn Ryan (Julianne Moore), who raised 10 kids and suffered an alcoholic husband (Woody Harrelson) while entering — and winning — Eisenhower-era jingle contests. ”All that stamina!” marvels the first-time feature director. ”Evelyn did it for survival. People thought there was something crazy about her depending on these contests, but she believed. And she had that extra bit of angel dust.”
With her patterned frocks and dated flip, Moore seems to be completing a period-piece triad that began with Far From Heaven and The Hours, though Anderson chafes at the comparison: ”All ’50s films are not alike. The messages are completely and utterly different. In The Hours [Moore’s] character was a victim, but Evelyn never ran away. No matter what happened to her, she just kept plowing the field and found joy in every single moment. I consider her the ultimate in Midwest Zen.” Which might explain why she almost called the film Om Is Where the Heart Is. Okay, that’s not true. Funny, but not true.