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Personal Velocity /

Rated: R

Starring: Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey, Fairuza Balk, Ron Leibman, John Ventimiglia 

Directed by: Rebecca Miller 

Produced by: Gary Winick, Lemore Syvan, Alexis Alexanian, Jonathan Sehring, Caroline Kaplan 

Written by: Rebecca Miller 

Distributor: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

 

Movie Image
Movie Image

     There is a noticeable recklessness in Personal Velocity, but not necessarily an annoying one. This is primarily because of the low-budget, but it should be noted that the film isnít anywhere near close to careless. When viewing, I was enthralled in the three main characters; the use of digital video wasnít a distraction. Writing and directing are clearly the strong suits of Personal Velocity, and help us stray from noticing the dreadful assembly. This is a victory for Rebecca Miller as a writer, but itís a miserable failure for her as a director. But, in the scheme of things, can we really blame Miller for the many errors in the direction? She probably wouldnít have been able to bring these three miraculous stories to the big screen, without a low-budget, which is mainly what flaws Personal Velocity. This is a respectable work in the world of independent film, but not much more than that. I can respect its beautiful writing and tremendous acting, which are definitely what keep Personal Velocity afloat.

     Personal Velocity is an intriguing adaptation of three of seven stories in Millerís book of shorts. These are the stories of three different women, whose lives are all loosely tied together by a hit and run accident that they all heard about. Each story is approximately thirty minutes long, making up a short and fast-paced, but effective 90 minute character study. I just received my copy of the literary version of Personal Velocity, and to be honest, I cannot wait to read it.

     The first story told is Deliaís (Kyra Sedgwick). As a teenager, Delia was always ignored, and gained the infamous reputation of being the high school slut. To accompany the clips of her younger days, we get absolutely ridiculous narration by John Ventimiglia, describing her sexual traits. For example: ďDeliaís ass was so big, the guys couldnít stop squeezing it, and they had to be around it all the time.Ē Show us the big ass; donít just talk about it, would you please? Soon after her high school days, she married. She and her husband had three kids. He begins to abuse her, and their relationship falls into a bottomless pit. One day, when she canít take the pain anymore, Delia and her children hit the road. Where should she go?

     Second up comes Greta (Paraker Posey). Greta is a happily married, cookbook editor. She knows that her husband will always be faithful to her. But things take a wrong turn when she has dinner with a leading writer, he asks her to edit his book (this time itís a real novel, not just instructions on when to add margarine into cookie dough). She willingly accepts. The massive amounts of time she spends with him, supposedly editing his book, turn into sexual side trips. She is having an affair! She will no longer be able to stay faithful to her husband, in the same way that he is to her. How will she explain for this?

     Third, and lastly, is the story of Paula (
Fairuza Balk). Paula is a pregnant woman, in a messy affair with a lover she desperately wants to escape from. When she hits the road one day, trying to leave the world behind, with nowhere to go except her motherís house, she comes across a wounded hitchhiker on the roadside. He appears to be a nice guy, even though sad, and brutally injured. Paula offers him a ride, not knowing where to take him. He accepts. Their questionable association with each other is perfectly captured by remarkable acting. What will become of these two?

     My favorite of the three stories is the second, even though the most accomplished is undoubtedly the third. In Gretaís thirty minutes, much of the skitís characterís feelings are let out. It is the most reflective of the three pieces, which I like. It is also the most well-written area of the film. The best acting is found in the third act, however. Balkís stunning portrayal of Paula is flawless, and is deserving of the utmost recognition. The story of Delia, which I havenít commended as much as the others, is definitely watchable, but didnít do much for me. I was amused, but I wasnít moved.

     If there is one point that Personal Velocity is trying to get across, itís that we all live our lives at different paces, and only those whose speeds agree will get along with each other. Each of the three women in the stores have different personal velocities (zero, slow, and fast is the most accurate description). The premise is fascinating. Iím really not sure if a better look wouldíve helped Personal Velocity. It wouldnít have had the same mood, even though by definition, it would be flawless. The grainy appearance puts emphasis on the different speeds that each of the characters live their lives at. Letís just rely on John Mellencamp to settle this. ďIt hurts so good.Ē

     An absolute wonder, Personal Velocity is an above average achievement, but not a superior one. It kept me captive during the short duration, and was a fully engaging experience, but Iím not sure it will have a lasting endurance. When looking back at two-thousand-and-two, I will remember several movies, and Personal Velocity will be one of them. Iím not sure if it changed my life, but it is unquestionably memorable. Comparisons to The Hours and word of mouth are what ultimately helped this one out of the development stages. This film is no where near as good as The Hours, if youíre wondering. But, for the record, it was deserving of the proper release that it received.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews