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Bodies, Rest and Motion  (Michael Steinberg, 1993)

   

    A generally winning romantic comedy possessing an unusual degree of self-importance, Michael Steinbergís Bodies, Rest and Motion works primarily because of its likable cast. Set over two days in a small Arizona city, the movie picks up as two of its cast of four dejected twenty-somethings are about to move to Butte, Montana for no particular reason besides dissatisfaction with their current situation. The recently unemployed drifter Nick (Tim Roth) insists on the move despite the mild protests from his obsequious girlfriend Beth (Bridget Fonda). Carol (Phoebe Cates), her best friend and his ex-girlfriend, shows up to help them pack and Sid (Eric Stoltz), a painter/philosopher shows up to complicate matters. As the group casually ends up pairing off in all possible permutations to debate their views on commitment, fate and love, the movie surprisingly avoids feeling like the adaptation of a stage play that the credits tell us that it is. Enchanting scenery of the desert and the city that surrounds it and effective musical montages only further dispel any clumsiness that one might expect considering the material it was based upon. Furthermore, the inventive compositional sense displayed by the director helps so that the series of talking heads that are put before us never grow tiresome visually.

   

    The cast of Bodies is awfully disillusioned for a group of people in their late twenties, but in their portrait of widespread malaise it seems to be making a grand statement about Generation X. Even though the group has met with a surprising number of disappointments in life, they arenít old enough that the feel of defeat that they suggest they feel is convincing. The movie is a mature look at a small group of people that arenít quite mature themselves. Thereís an earthy quality to the performances that makes the characters believable despite the effective deployment of the charisma that made these actors stars. The film is both pleasingly frank about sexuality and refreshing because it doesnít feel it necessary to have its character boldly confronted about their apparent issues. Since the script is content to demonstrate its characters traits through their actions and through dialogue that doesnít directly express what itís meant to say, the two-day structure thatís employed rarely feels strained. After watching Bodies, Rest and Motion I have no idea what the title means and only slightly more of an idea what itís all ďsupposedĒ to be about. Nonetheless, I canít deny that I enjoyed spending time with these characters and watching as they tried to find the direction missing from their lives.

 

57 

09-01-03

Jeremy Heilman