A Slipping Down Life

Director: Toni Kalem

Based on one of Anne Tyler’s more forgettable novels, Toni Kalem’s strange tale of a lonely, peculiar young woman so devoted to a local musician that she carves his name in her forehead to prove her love and gain his attention, benefits largely to the perfect casting of its leading lady, Lili Taylor. Guy Pearce proves he has quite a good singing voice and the sexy, Jim Morrison-lite charisma to match as the object of Taylor’s misguided affection and the film, while being a bit rough around the edges and hard to get a handle on, works because this strange pair manages to touch you somehow, just like Pearce’s mysterious voice touches Taylor via a tiny radio on her bed on one lonely night. There’s an unsatisfying subplot involving the town slut that eats up too much screen time and bogs the film down from its focus. Too little time is spent illustrating the evolution of their relationship from groupie/artist to married couple and while we understand the way they’re pulled together thanks to the bizarre stunt and kindred spirits, we want to know more about what happens after the two hook up.