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Movie review: 'Copperhead' a dull march through Civil War history

Published August 2, 2013 10:47 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The slow-moving drama "Copperhead" depicts a little-known facet of the Civil War, but in a way so tedious you're not surprised that it's rarely told.

It's 1862 in upstate New York, where a handful of anti-Lincoln Democrats oppose the war and are given the nickname "Copperheads." One is Abner Beech (Billy Campbell, from "The Killing"), a farmer whose son Jeff (Casey Brown) is in love with young schoolteacher Esther Hagedorn (Lucy Boynton). And Esther's father, Bible-thumping lumber-mill operator Jay Hagedorn (Angus Macfadyen), is a rabid war supporter.

First-time screenwriter Bill Kauffman adapts Harold Frederic's 1893 novel with the plodding pace and historical exposition of an educational film. And director Ron Maxwell, whose résumé includes the four-hour Civil War dramas "Gettysburg" and "Gods and Generals," does little to spark any passion in the performances.

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'Copperhead'

Opens Friday, Aug. 2, at Tower Theatre; rated PG-13 for an unsettling sequence; 120 minutes.