Personal Velocity

Release Date: November 22, 2002
Limited release

That is one freaky hand you've got there, mister.

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The Grand Jury Prize winner at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, Personal Velocity is the story of three women who struggle to escape from the men who confine their personal freedom. The film is written and directed by Rebecca Miller, daughter of famed playwright Arthur Miller, based on her book of short stories by the same title.

The film is actually arranged as a set of three separate short stories, all following a similar theme and focusing on one major female character. The first character is Delia (Kyra Sedgwick), a former rock-and-roll party chick who survived the abuse of her hippy father and used her sexuality to gain power. Even so, she winds up an abused wife in a trailer out in the backwoods of New York. When the pain of her abuse begins to affect her children, she takes them and runs away to begin a new life.

Greta (Parker Posey) is the daughter of a powerful attorney from whom she has become estranged over the years. She finds comfort in the arms of a steady but dull man, and becomes a book-publishing editor with a specialty in cookbooks. When a hip young author requests that she edit his work, she finds herself yearning for bigger things, both in her professional life and in her intimate relationships.

Our final character is Paula (Fairuza Balk), a pregnant Goth girl who narrowly escapes death’s grip and gets a second chance at life. She finds that new chance in a battered young boy who she picks up as he is hitchhiking.

Personal Velocity has received a fair amount of critical acclaim, with the cinematography especially attracting notice. It all adds up to a thoughtful examination of women who must make vital decisions and the thought processes behind those decisions. Miller probably best describes the underlying theme as, "A kind of cocktail of personal choice and destiny, which is personal velocity; the thing that hurls us through life or we hurl ourselves. The combination of choice and other elements, history, family, or a mystical element, that unseen hand that moves us along. Whatever it is, I don't really attempt to answer these questions, I just ask them. What clustered these three particular stories for me is personal velocity being a sub-theme for the film."

Look for Personal Velocity to be a minor player when end-of-year awards roll around. Sundance Festival award winners aren’t generally huge factors; however, with a dearth of good roles for women over the past year, the strong performances by Posey, Balk and particularly Sedgwick should receive some recognition. (Kim Hollis/BOP)

Vital statistics for Personal Velocity
Main Cast Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey, Fairuza Balk
Supporting Cast David Warshofsky, Brian Tarantina, Mara Hobel, Leo Fitzpatrick, Tim Guinee, Wallace Shawn, Joel de la Fuente, Ron Leibman, Josh Phillip Weinstein, Ben Shenkman, Lou Taylor Pucci
Director Rebecca Miller
Screenwriter Rebecca Miller
Distributor United Artists
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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