Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Personal Velocity: Three Portraits

In Personal Velocity: Three Portraits, Rebecca Miller has adapted and directed three of her own short stories for the screen - how faithfully I don't know. Each story features a central female character who defies the path they expect to follow or are expected to follow. Progressing from one story to another, we get increasingly shorter slices of the character's lives so whereas the first section featuring Delia's story (Kyra Sedgwick) follows her from high school to married life with teenage children, by the time we get to the last part, Paula (Fairuza Balk), we are only covering a couple of days. In between these is the story of Greta (Parker Posey), that appears to take place over a number of years. Though the stories vary in the length of time they accelerate to their end, they all culminate in a life-altering change that each character feels finally compelled to make. Miller uses what seems to be an unnecessarily cute device to link the three stories together by making them overlap in time: the accident that occurs at the heart of the third story is mentioned in passing in the first two though it is unclear what we are meant to draw from this. Some have also found the director's decision to use a man as the voice-over narrator a problematic one: as a way to add depth to the brevity of the form it works whether or not you feel it strange to hear a man's voice inside a woman's head.

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