Film review: Personal Velocity: Three Portraits

Published: Friday, Jan. 10 2003 11:41 a.m. MST

It's hard to recall a film that has squandered so many good performances in the service of a go-nowhere premise as "Personal Velocity: Three Portraits."

The problem might be more forgivable if the performances weren't so solid in this sullen drama, which comes from someone who should have known better — novelist-turned-filmmaker Rebecca Miller, the daughter of playwright Arthur Miller.

Unfortunately, her first film is a stuffy bore, filled with amateurish psychological "insights" that make it seem like a more-ambitious — and infinitely more pretentious — Lifetime channel cable movie.

As advertised, "Personal Velocity" paints portraits of three very different women, the tenuous link being that all are apparently held back by their personal relationships.

First up is Delia (Kyra Sedgwick), a mother of three who is being abused by her husband (Tim Guinee), and who finally gets fed up enough about it to leave.

Next, Greta (Parker Posey) is a book editor who finally seems to be on the fast track to success, but finds that her marriage is a bit too comfortable, and that her father (Ron Leibman) may not be as great as she once believed.

Finally, Paula (Fairuza Balk) sees a lot of herself in a teenage runaway (Lou Taylor Pucci) she's just picked up while she runs away from her own problems.

With the exception of the second segment, which features some of Posey's best, most subtle work, the segments are uninteresting and painfully cliched. (If you can't tell where these stories are going, you must have zoned out, though that would certainly be justifiable in this case.)

And Miller's direction is as unsubtle as her screenplay, which compounds things by throwing in some awfully flat voice-over narration.

"Personal Velocity: Three Portraits" is rated R for scenes of simulated sex and sex acts, occasional use of strong sex-related profanity, violence (domestic), crude sexual talk and use of sexual slang terms, brief drug content (discussion and use of marijuana), partial male and female nudity and brief gore. Running time: 86 minutes.


E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com

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