Directed by Rececca Miller. Starring Fairuza Balk, Parker Posey, Kyra Sedgwick.
Personal Velocity is Rebecca Miller's second feature film and has been feted by a number of festivals including this year's Sundance. Conceived as a triptych of stories detailing climatic moments in the lives of three different women ('Delia', 'Greta' and 'Paula'), evidence of Miller's experiences as a painter, actress and writer is here in abundance.
Kyra Sedgwick gives an excellent performance as Delia, a mother of three, who leaves her abusive husband and refuses to be treated as a victim. The charged exchanges are elegantly written in 'Greta'. In this piece Parker Posey plays a New York literary agent who shares uncertain relationships with her father and husband. At times the action cuts into painterly stills, an effective technique, which allows the audience a moment to ingest what they have just seen and perhaps re-engage with its meaning.
As such, Miller's other skills stand her to good stead, but it is in the third and least compelling story, 'Paula', that Miller's form as an actual film-maker is most lacking. Paula is a young girl who has recently become pregnant and has left her boyfriend. She walks away from a hit and run accident and herself picks up a runaway who has been badly beaten.
Fairuza Balk plays her part well and convincingly, but the story possesses none of the drama, pathos or wit of its predecessors. The characters are underdeveloped and consequently we care little for what we see. There also seems to be a somewhat tenuous connection to the other stories through the hit and run incident which is alluded to earlier. While the notion of hit and run may itself constitute a motif of sorts, the overall effect seems a little contrived. Nevertheless 'Paula' does contain moments of beauty and accomplishment and indeed overall this is a good-looking film.
The mostly female crew show a lot of skill, in particular through the intelligent use of natural light and the cramped claustrophobic close ups in Kyra Sedgwick's trailer. It is worth adding that this is a very low budget digital feature and is actually far better than many other films shot for significantly more money.
'Personal Velocity' is not a great film, but there is much that is good here. In terms of subject matter and technique, there should be more films like this.