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Personal Velocity

The Speed of Life

Life has it's own pace. Sometimes is dull and slow. At other times it breaks loose and goes awry. Personal Velocity, written and directed by Rebecca Miller and based on her book by the same name, takes a glimpse into the lives of three women during turning points in their lives.

The film is split into three segments and heavily relies on glib narration from book. The women: Delia, Greta and Paula all live in the state of New York and are loosely strung together by a car accident. The first piece focuses on Delia (Kyra Sedgwick, who reminds me of Julia Roberts but with better acting skills), a mother with three kids and a traffic-stopping ass that uses sex as power. You learn that she grew up with her dead-beat father in the Catskills and made a reputation for herself from the age of twelve. She's a tough cookie who finds herself in a domestic violence situation and needs to get out.

Then you are introduced to Greta (Parker Posey), a publisher in New York City, with an eye for redundancy and a "problem with fidelity", working her way through tedious cookbooks. This is the wittiest and most engaging of the three pieces; the editing and tight narration all contribute to it being so. She's married to a kind and trusting yet dull man who seems to bleed her of her ambition. Then Greta's career takes a turn for the better and she finds herself at a crossroads.

The last piece brings you into the life of Paula (Fairuza Balk). An accident that changes her life leads her on an unexpected road trip in which she picks up a mysterious hitchhiker. She has lots of ideas but she's not really going anywhere. Which pretty much sums up this segment as a whole. It drags and it's slow and it's just as listless as Paula herself.

The entire structure of the movie is based on the words of the narrator reading from the book. Miller weaves the text with the visual interpretation beautifully and with flare, which is a difficult task to do. The film is shot with a digital camera making the direction all the more intimate and raw. It's hard to believe that she both wrote the novel and the screenplay and crossed over to direct the movie. Unlike the whole model turned actress turned singer turned news anchor shtick, Miller does an outstanding job. Furthermore, kudos must go to editor Sabine Hoffman and music supervisor Linda Cohen for excellent shot cuts and clever use of music.

Although Personal Velocity is skillfully directed, poignant and even funny at times, it all boils down to being a "chick flick". It's not sappy and it certainly won't make you shed a tear, it is simply female-oriented; it puts you into the mind and lives of women. Just a word to the wise to those who are perusing the movie listings and mistake this film for some kind of action flick because it has the word "velocity" in its title.

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Personal Velocity
R
1 hour 25 minutes

Kyra Sedgwick
Parker Posey
Fairuza Balk
Ron Leibman
John Ventimiglia

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