Press "Enter" to skip to content

Little Pink House

While the rain kept me indoors this afternoon, I watched Little Pink House, the wonderful new indie movie about Susette Kelo and her fight (aided by the Institute for Justice) to keep her own Olde Wreck of a home.

It’s not a documentary, but a dramatization with the great Catherine Keener as Kelo. Very good movie. I highly recommend it. Although small bits of the dialog are too expository (perhaps necessary to set up the complex legal and political issues), the performances are awesome and the story both uncompromisingly freedomista and surprisingly un-Hollywoodized. Keener totally nails Kelo. She’s an undereducated, likable, working-class woman who simply loves her home — and is clearly a formidable opponent to injustice.

She and her working-class neighbors are treated with absolute respect by the filmmakers. There are no toothless stereotypes. No racial bigots, no drunken ignorami. Just neighbors. People who didn’t have much, but who had modest homes with beautiful water views that politicians wanted to steal. The only caricature is the pseudonymous “Catherine Wells” (Jeanne Tripplehorn), outlandish head of the New London Development Corporation. I can’t imagine her real-world counterpart, Dr. Claire Gaudiani, is so very like a jumped-up Mary Kay salesthing. But I’m not complaining because the character was evil-funny.

Anyhow, a generally true and well-made indie film.


This is also the second really, really, really good anti-authoritarian movie I’ve seen in the last week. The other — very different in every way — is Wes Anderson’s oddball, lovable Isle of Dogs. The resistance in that movie is fantasy, whereas Little Pink House is as close to dirt-level reality as it gets. But still.

Check ’em out if you haven’t already. Or mini-review then in comments if you have. Wes Anderson films aren’t to everybody’s taste and tend to be love-em-or-hate-em experiences. But I can’t imagine anybody here not cheering for Susette Kelo and her partisans.


  1. brew
    brew August 25, 2018 8:11 pm

    If I remember correctly I saw a followup to this on Stossel…. she lost the fight, they tore everything down, and now the area is just a big vacant lot of prime real estate…. or am I confusing my Pink Houses? 😉

  2. larryarnold
    larryarnold August 25, 2018 9:01 pm

    Other than “and nobody ever got fired over the massive screw-up,” you’re dead on.

  3. Comrade x
    Comrade x August 25, 2018 9:51 pm

    On the list but I sure wish I could get the sound track form Isle of Dogs out my head, It’s driving me batty (as if I’s won’t already).

  4. Claire
    Claire August 26, 2018 5:41 am

    brew — You’re absolutely right. It remains a vacant lot that cost taxpayers well over $100 million, plus all the lost tax revenues from the homes and businesses that used to be there. But Kelo’s house was taken apart and reassembled elsewhere as a monument and 40-some states changed their eminent domain laws to protect against what was done to these people.

    Comrade X — I also have the Isle of Dogs sound track going round and round in my head, but in this case, it’s very welcome there. I love that wild drumming!

  5. Doug
    Doug August 26, 2018 7:27 am

    I miss the yearly “Hardeyville Film Festival ”
    You used to put out in your column.

  6. Claire
    Claire August 26, 2018 7:45 am

    I miss it, too — and I miss the fun of collaborating with others on making the selections and holding and tallying the big v*tes. But oddly, it was never a popular feature with most readers. I don’t know why.

  7. Bear
    Bear August 26, 2018 7:57 am

    Whoa. I haven’t seen the movie, but — since I knew nothing of Dr. Claire Gaudiani — I had to look her up. She’s a ” Clinical Professor of Philanthropy,” and wrote ” The Greater Good: How Philanthropy Drives the American Economy and Can Save Capitalism.”

    Her schtick seems to be that everyone must be generous to the whole. Like it or not. The greater good is all that matters.

    From herown website bio: “Our Constitution is an ‘assignment pad’ for all Americans.”

    The “CLINTON School of Public Service” lists her as a speaker, and speaks glowingly of her.

    How’s that match the movie caricature?

    ADDED: Only a few of the bios I found for her even mention the New London Development Corp. None mention Kelo at all. None mention the general fiasco.

  8. Claire
    Claire August 26, 2018 8:49 am

    Y’know, Bear, I’m slowly coming to the same conclusion — that the caricature might be built into the actual person.

    The book Little Pink House arrived from the library on the same day the DVD came via Netflix. I’m reading it now and getting the picture of a woman who is not only all that the movie showed and all that your research indicates, but who was also a veritable steamroller.

    The governor and his chief aides (who hatched the New London plan) hired her to run the NLDC because she had connections up the wahzoo and could organize like nobody’s business. She’s the person who went straight to Pfizer and got them interested in the site even when it was actually terrible for their purposes. She’s apparently the one who, when Pfizer was reluctant and said the original site was too small, cooked up the fiasco of eminent domain to grab enough land to appeal to them.

    The politicians’ one big fear from the get-go was that even the most powerful people in the state wouldn’t be able to control her, so determined would she be to “do good” on her own terms.

  9. Claire
    Claire August 26, 2018 9:07 am

    Pretty amusing, too, that her greatest “claim to fame” (after all, her position on eminent domain for private use was endorsed by the high-and-mighty U.S. Supreme Court) is omitted from her bios.

  10. Desertrat 1
    Desertrat 1 August 26, 2018 1:19 pm

    Kelo was based on the 1950s precedent set in an urban renewal case. The Supremes redefined the “public use” phrase of the Constitution to be the same thing as “public benefit”.

Leave a Reply