NYT Lefty Critic Guts Eminent Domain Abuse Movie, Says Such Abuse May Be 'Defensible'

April 21st, 2018 1:50 PM

Liberal movie critic Jeannette Catsoulis finally found an "earnest" political message movie she didn’t like -- one with a free-market libertarian bent that happens to match up with the Times’ outlier status as an editorial supporter of the Kelo decision (and, a beneficiary of similar eminent domain abuse).

The enraging true story pit homeowner Susette Kelo against the town of New London, Conn., which condemned her private property in order to give it to another private owner, Pfizer, in the name of an economic development plan that never even got off the ground. As of 2014, the plot of land where the house stood remained an empty lot.

Early reviews are favorable, and even conservative columnist George Will turned into a movie critic to deliver a passionate thumbs-up, but Catsoulis turned up her nose at Kelo's plight and whined that such abuse of eminent domain may be "defensible" after all. Her brief take on Little Pink House for Friday’s edition:

In its earnest attempt to present a landmark legal case as a classic underdog story, “Little Pink House,” based on Jeff Benedict’s 2009 book of the same name, succeeds neither narratively nor visually. And not because the setup lacks drama: The true story of Susette Kelo’s yearslong battle to save her waterfront home in a declining Connecticut town would conclude in the U.S. Supreme Court....

Instead, she turns it into advocacy as Kelo (Catherine Keener), a soft-spoken paramedic, and her blue-collar neighbors face off against the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer....


Seemingly more focused on its cause than on fleshing out its characters (they’re either hiss- or hurrah-worthy), “Little Pink House” reveals almost nothing about Kelo, her past or her new partner (the likable Callum Keith Rennie). Refusing to entertain even the possibility that eminent domain might be defensible, the movie desires no discussion. All it wants is our sympathy.

The Times has a problematic history with the Supreme Court's notorious 2005 eminent domain ruling in Kelo vs. New London -- a ruling which the Times alone among major editorial pages supported, perhaps to avoid the charge of hypocrisy, considering its own abuse of eminent domain. The Times' editorial page was one of the few to support the ruling upholding the power of local governments to seize private property for the benefit of private businesses, in this case the drug giant Pfizer.

Catsoulis absolutely despised the 2012 pro-life movie October Baby, which she said communicated “in the language of guilt and fear.