Personal Velocity

December, 2002, Drama

Directed by:Rebecca Miller

Starring:Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey, and Fairuza Balk

A Grand Prize winner at this year's Sundance Film Festival, this trio of independent tales, adapted by director Rebecca Miller from her own short stories, features some wonderful performances and a pleasing use of digital technology, but the very brevity of the unconnected plots, (each examining a woman doing something sudden and unexpected) relies too much on mood and atmosphere. That’s wonderfully supplied by cinematographer Ellen Kuras, who uses the softer focus of his digital images to perfect effect but with insufficient emphasis on character development and motivation. We're given an abused wife/ mom running from her husband and dealing with a leering suitor, a self-absorbed book editor torn between a dull husband and a promising liaison and a punk rocker estranged from her mom and stepfather. Each commits an impulsive act, and we're left to make of it what we will. Kyra Sedgewick and Parker Posey are splendid as the mom on the run and the shallow editor, but Fairuza Balk is less successful as the tough young woman who wants to be helpful to someone--anyone.

While the supporting performances are also good, there simply isn't enough flesh on the bones here to sustain these three virtual snapshots; we know what they did and how they did it, but we've no clue, at film's end, as to why…and that lack of explanation frustrates this otherwise interesting film. Let's hope Ms. Miller tackles a script next time that allows her to develop something really cohesive.  

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