Personal Velocity (1/10)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


Personal Velocity is a 90-minute trilogy, three separate stories by writer/director Rebecca Miller, about three separate women, made by women.  If this is the way women view themselves, God help us.

 In the first Delia (Kyra Sedgwick) is a terribly abused wife and mother who flees from her husband in the middle of the night and takes their three children with her.  Miller has made her such an ungrateful, hard woman, that itís extremely difficult to find her sympathetic.

 In the second, Greta (Parker Posey) is a gorgeous sexual sociopath.  Sheís an editor who finds quick success and loses respect for her writer-husband who hasnít yet achieved the same level of success.  These people are in their late Ď20s, and sheís so impatient?  It contains an egregious time error.  She confesses to be 27 and in a flashback 10 years earlier we are expected to believe that sheís had something accepted for publication by Harvard Law School.  Unless she was a prodigy, at 17 she would be, at best, a freshman in college.  And Harvard Law wants to publish her? 

 In the third Paula (Fairuze Balik) is a runaway who finds herself pregnant and running away from her boy friend when she picks up a hitchhiker and finds her maternal instinct.  Of all three, Paula is the most sympathetic, but sheís so screwed up and unhappy, one really doesnít care.

 Detracting from these negative stories is the cinematography of Ellen Kuras.  The film is marred by extreme close-ups, jumpy handheld cameras and insertions of still photography to show action, like it was a Ken Burns documentary about an era when there were no motion pictures.

 Itís hard to determine which is the most despicable story.  I found the first particularly offensive because abused mothers are in a terrible position.  Generally they are economic prisoners of their abuser.  If they leave, they have no financial support for themselves and their children.  So creator Miller chooses to show a woman who is almost totally unsympathetic.  Delia shows no appreciation for the people who go out of their way to help her.  Indeed, she goes out of her way to be ungrateful and offensive to them.  Since this is a terrible societal problem this would have been a wonderful opportunity to choose an empathetic subject to show the problems these women face, instead of showing her to be so unpitying.

 In the second, Greta has absolutely no loyalty to her loving and devoted husband, even though weíre told she loves him dearly.  Are we to determine that marital vows and faithfulness have no meaning to women, that if a professional woman is more successful than her professional husband thatís a good and valid reason to cheat on him and abandon him?  Apparently thatís what Miller believes, because thatís the moral of this story.

 This is a contemptible, low class film about low class, selfish people.  While itís interesting to consider that people do live these kinds of lives, I canít imagine that anyone would find this film enjoyable. 

 The End