Directed by Rebecca Miller.
Written by Rebecca Miller.
Starring Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey and Fairuza Balk.
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 12/10/02
For the first time in almost 150 reviews and
essays this year, not a single person responded to the
That” review. This tells me one of two things: 1) I didn’t send it
out, but that is unlikely since it is in the Sent folder...or, 2)
nobody gave a rat’s ass about the Crystal/De Niro pairing for the
Anyway, a couple of times a year, I break
from Justin Bell tradition and see a Damned Chick Flick. Because I
am perpetually single, I am not usually dragged to see Damned Chick
Flicks with Significant Others, because I never have one! (One of
the few benefits, I guess.) My Sunday night movie crew made the
move for “Personal Velocity” and I took the bait.
I was pretty happy with the results. A
three-part arc based on the book of the same name, “Personal
Velocity” deals with three unconnected women and their goings-on
over the course of a day, a month, and a full year. We get the
month first, as Delia (Kyra Sedgwick) deals with spousal abuse and a
worsening home situation with her three adolescent children. In
part two, 28-year-old book editor Greta (Parker Posey) takes us back
over the course of the last year as she details why her sudden work
success has affected her marriage to a classic good guy named Lee
(Tim Guinee). Finally, a runaway named Paula (Fairuza Balk) comes
into the life of an abused teen and attempts to find out what
happened to him over the course of a day filled with a visit to her
mother’s and her possible involvement in an accidental manslaughter.
Now, this did win the Grand Jury Prize at
Cannes, so somebody must have thought “Personal Velocity” was pretty
good. The first two segments of the film are excellent, riveting
stuff. Seriously, the first half-hour spent with Delia had me
watching with my eyes wide open. Sedgwick seems to have played
characters like this before, and one can believe that she could rule
the world with that lethal combination of attitude and sex appeal.
But, when she first gets pushed around by her husband Pete (Brian
Tarantina), it just comes as a shock, even if you sense that it is
coming. Sedgwick embodies her character’s desperate situation well,
and the way in which she wields her sexual power over a local teen
at a diner made me think she would shame me, too.
The second segment of the film was my
favorite, because although you might think it was a drama, for me it
was a straight horror. Whenever I watch films featuring nice guys
that are about to get cheated on, I start to get scared. You could
put “Friday the 13th”, “Halloween” and
“The Exorcist” together and
it is STILL not scarier than watching Lee come home to a wife that
he thinks loves him and supports him...when in fact, that wife is so
self-absorbed and such a cheating whore that she is staying with him
just out of convenience. Ugh! Posey is very good at this (again,
playing a character that contains similar Posey elements to her
roles from the recent past, including
“Best in Show”) and you buy
into the fact that every time she cheats, this will be “the last
time she ever cheats on Lee”...kind of like those bad hangover days
when you swear that you are “never going to drink again.” Riiiiiiiight.
The third segment, featuring Balk’s
character, is weak and it wasn’t the right way to end the film. I
probably would have stuck it in the middle, especially because its
ending doesn’t make for a very good FILM ending, and at 85 minutes,
the movie is quite trim and you would like to be sent away with
something more entertaining than that. Writer/director Rebecca
Miller (she also wrote the book) also falls in love with close-ups
in the final segment, and with her already-sketchy digital
photography grainier and grainier in the rain-soaked conclusion, I
just had a hard time watching the goings-on during that sequence.
By doing away with her narration as well, the third segment almost
doesn’t fit into the whole movie.
But, see “Personal Velocity” anyway for the
entertaining first two-thirds. And, finally, some great female
roles for everyone in a movie!
Rating: $9.00 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard