Personal Velocity

Movie Review by Neil Ryan

Starring: Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey, Fairuza Balk, John Ventimiglia, David Warshofsky

Director: Rebecca Miller

Isn’t that just the way? You wait for ages for a chick-flick triptych depiction of three disparate women in crisis and then two come along at once. Of course THE HOURS has the star names, the high profile, and the nose, but PERSONAL VELOCITY is also a worthy and weighty film. It also enjoys the added kudos of being laden with indie cred: writer/director Rebecca Miller is the kind of multi-talented auteur beloved of arty fringe dwellers (she is also a painter, author, and actress); the constituent stories are suitably freewheeling and inconclusive; the quirky camerawork is filmed on grainy digital video; and the three stars (Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey, Fairuza Balk) are the kind of resolutely ‘for real’ indie queens who were put on this earth to be perennial Best Supporting Actress nominees (and a spellchecker’s nightmare).

Sedgwick is a hard-bitten mother of three with a strong sense of her sexual self who determines to escape from her physically abusive husband. Posey is a well-educated New Yorker with a burgeoning career, ever-increasing ambition, and an extremely pleasant, extremely bland, husband. She, too, wants to hit the old ejector seat button. Finally, Balk is a slightly gothic individual of indeterminate means. She has a boyfriend and apartment in Brooklyn, a recently fertilised seed in her womb, and a tortured hitchhiker in her car. Now that’s what I call indie! You want more? How about the liberal use of freeze-frames and flashbacks; scenes of both male and female masturbation; and a laconic (and, yes, quirky) narrative voiceover that clearly revels in its own daring when it casually employs the c-word.

Having said all of that I do not wish to sound dismissive: there is nothing wrong with the idea of divorcing oneself from the movie mainstream (quite the opposite in fact) so long as you do not brandish your credentials in too outre a fashion, and PERSONAL VELOCITY manages to keep its pretensions in check. It is, by turns, amusing, dramatic, puzzling, and – of course – quirky. The performances are good, especially from Sedgwick who has the audience rooting for her despite not being particularly likeable, and the film should act as a good foot in the door for Miller that bodes well for her future projects.

4 out of 6 stars

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