Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Personal Velocity (IMDB) (Netflix)
Three character studies of women in transition, each written and directed by Rebecca Miller. Delia, a former high school trollop and an impressively dislikeable human being, escapes from her abusive husband. Greta has settled in her life in more ways than one, but is then confronted with sudden success. Paula is newly pregnant, almost becomes the victim of a fatal accident, and picks up a hitchhiker in need of care. The title refers to our unique arcs of development, and how they're a combination of timing, circumstance and latent desire.

Miller is depressingly multi-talented, also being an actor, a sculptor and a writer of the short stories that formed the film. The narration has a certain literary quality, and quickly fills in the expository gaps and backstories — necessary given the ground that needs covering. The male characters, well, now I know how it feels not to share the writer's gender, but there are so many of them. While none of these stories is worth a full movie, they all stand on their own, and each has something to say that's in danger of being missed in the swarm of over-hyped holiday films. As loyal reader Janet Borggren observed, exactly the opposite of the new Lord of the Rings movie; I'm sure the other three people in the theater would have agreed.