Personal Velocity (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner24/03/2003

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Enjoyable indie flick enlivened by strong performances by its three leads.

At first glance, writer-director Rebecca Miller’s (daughter of Arthur, wife of Daniel Day Lewis) film might look like a low budget indie version of The Hours, since it also features three stories about three women. It’s the sort of film that you might decide against if someone tried to describe it to you (“Well, it’s about these three different women living their lives…”), but it’s definitely worth seeing, largely for the strong performances by its lead actresses.

Interlinking Short Stories

The film is based on Miller’s own short stories, meaning that she joins a presumably small group of authors-turned-directors of their own work. (A future trivia question in the making). The three stories play out individually, rather than being intercut, and are linked only thematically and by reference to a fatal accident.

The first story features Delia (Kyra Sedgwick), a battered wife who fondly recalls her glory days as the School Slut. Having taken one beating too many she flees her abusive husband and takes her kids. She ends up getting a job as a waitress before finding a weird sort of relief in a relationship with the restaurant owner’s son (Leo Fitzpatrick).

The second – and best - story stars the glorious Parker Posey as Greta, an ambitious New York editor who embarks on an affair with a best-selling author and comes to realise that “she must cut her beautiful husband out of her life like a redundant paragraph”.

The final story features Paula (Fairuza Balk), a troubled pregnant girl who once ran away from home. On the road, she picks up a young male hitchhiker and discovers that he’s been badly beaten. She’s prompted both to visit her estranged mother and to try and look after the boy, but things don’t quite go as planned.

Overwritten And Somewhat Too Worthy

The film is a little over-written, relying a little too heavily on a male narrator reading largely superfluous chunks of text. (Greta is allowed to read her own story). However, Miller also makes good use of film techniques too, particularly flashbacks and freeze-framing in order to capture the characters at particular points in their lives.

The stories are also linked in another way – each contains a central scene that is in some way shocking or graphic. In the first two stories, this is explicitly sexual, though the scene in Paula’s story is of a different nature.

The acting is excellent, from all three leads and it’s hard not to come away from the film wishing that they were routinely offered better parts in more mainstream movies. Of the three, Posey is perhaps the standout, since her story forces her to rely on her facial expressions more than the others do (although she also gets all the best lines, too).

In short, this is an enjoyable indie flick with several good scenes and superb performances from Sedgwick, Balk and Posey. It’s a bit too wordy and not quite as ‘worthy’ as it thinks it is, but it makes a watchable indie alternative to The Hours. Worth seeing.

Film Trailer

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Content updated: 01/08/2014 16:53

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