Rebelling against his dreary life in a small Arizona town, salesman Nick abandons his girlfriend, Beth, and strikes out onto the highway in search of... something else. Encouraged by her best friend, Carol, Beth reluctantly accepts the romantic attentions of Sid, a local housepainter.
01 Feb Bodies, Rest & Motion (1993)
Sometimes — and I think it is often with sculptural films — the essence of the movie is concentrated in a few elements.
There is a lot of surrounding story here, but it is there for only two things. These are things that need that context to have power.
The surrounding story is pretty sad: a man, someone who literally sells vision, lives with a woman, and next door to the woman he used to live with. He cannot help but hurt them, being emotionally incompetent; he has problems he carries about his dad. At the end, he facilitates a possibility of real love with another man for his recent lover. She has run away, scared by loss. It is slow. He has a sort of redemption.
One bit with power is in the middle. Our hapless guy travels to the home where his estranged parents are, only to find them long dead. The house is occupied by a deaf old man and his 18 year old granddaughter, played by Alicia Witt. This was 1993, when in Hollywood, she was a sort of mystical token, following her use by Lynch in “Dune,” and his wild pronouncements of her symbolism. This sequence has a tone apart from all else you see; more dreamy, more like Kusturica,the production of whose “Arizona Dream” overlapped with this. Alicia has her high point as a young actress here, desperately lonely with a man who cannot hear her.
The other bit is contrasted with the lack of hearing. The desert is photographed with one intent: to provide something to lay lush sounds upon, as if to give us the richnesses the characters onscreen are denied. The sounds are of three kind: desert sounds; Gram Parsons songs from his period where he gave his life to this same desert out of similar loneliness; and a lovely girls choir with something merged from Indian chants, space music and aeolian chords.
If you are not already desperately lonely, this will do the job.
Posted in 2010
Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.