Personal Velocity

Director: Rebecca Miller

Adapted from three of the seven portraits of women making major life decisions in her novel of the same name, Rebecca Miller’s intelligent, thoughtful and powerfully acted film won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. The three stories that make up Personal Velocity can each stand on their own as insightful short films but together as a whole, they provide a worthwhile work that thinking audiences will love. Each tale depicts a woman coming to a crossroads in her life and the first story features Kyra Sedgwick in a tough, unflinching performance as a battered housewife who flees from her abusive husband with her three children in tow. Parker Posey is superb as an ambitious book editor whose career begins taking off around the same time she realizes her marital satisfaction is waning in the second vignette. In the third and best portrait, Fairuza Balk plays a young, pregnant women who picks up a child hitchhiker after surviving a tragic accident. The narration, taken directly from Miller’s novel, is brilliant and the sentences stay with you long after they’re spoken—- the words have layers of meaning and while the tales are deceptively simple, the short films themselves are anything but. Curiously, the titles of the films go in alphabetical order after the name of each main character and while this may be unintentional, one thing that definitely isn’t in retrospect is that the three very different journeys the women take during the film can actually be viewed as one long road that women take during their lives—- in the first one, they change direction, in the second, they go like hell and in the third, finally start evaluating the journey thus far. Watch with a good friend to discuss afterwards. Brilliantly photographed by female cinematographer, Ellen Kuras.