Review of Big Stone Gap from @kleffnotes

While at a Barnes and Noble over the holidays I noticed a section of books labeled from Page to Screen. I had heard of some of the movies that were being adapted into either movies or tv shows, but one I had never heard of was Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani. I wasn’t sure when the movie was coming out, but I was surprised when it arrived at work and thought I’d give it a watch.

Now the first thing that I found really cool about this movie was that the author of the book also created the screenplay and directed. That’s pretty impressive to me, I mean she basically did everything to ensure that her story would be adapted the way that she felt was best. Now I’m not sure what to call this movie. It’s set entirely in the years 1978 and 1979 and I want to call it a period piece because the costuming, the accents, and the overarching feel of the movie made me feel like I was fully immersed in the Virginia mountains during the late 70’s.

big stone gap book

Big Stone Gap is focused on Ava Maria, Ashley Judd, who has lived in the small coal mining town the movie is named after her entire life and has found herself turning forty years old and is still unmarried. She has proclaimed herself a spinster and isn’t looking to find a husband, though the town thinks she should. When her Italian immigrant mother dies Ava learns a huge secret about her background, but the movie isn’t entirely focused on that. She continues with her life, until after suffering a breakdown decides that she wants to make a huge change. Now while Ava isn’t looking for romance, love is a brewing all around her, and she finds herself torn between what she has in Big Stone Gap and what her life could be like should she go on her grand adventure.

ava maria

Now the movie is a bit of slow burn, I can definitely tell that it is based on a novel because there is a lot more character development than I was anticipating. This is great for some of the side characters we get to meet along the way, including a young girl named Pearl that Ava takes a shine to. The ending of the movie is very sweet, but admittedly I felt like it dragged a bit after the first half hour. After watching the movie I’d be interested to see what difference there might be in the book or if Trigiani was able to keep things primarily the same.

I could see this movie appealing to people who enjoy slice of life films, and while it personally wasn’t something I would normally watch, the acting and costuming were delightful. If you want to share your thoughts about Big Stone Gap, you can comment below or tweet at us, @thenerdygirlexp. You can also tweet at me, @kleffnotes, and find me on my blog,, and on my kleffnotes YouTube channel.

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