Bodies, Rest & Motion Reviews
A likeable cast helps lift this fairly typical comedy drama about four young adults (Eric Stoltz, Bridget Fonda, Phoebe Cates, and Tim Roth) trying to figure out the changes in their lives.
directed by Michael Steinberg
written by Roger Hedden
based on the play by Roger Hedden
starring Eric Stoltz, Tim Roth, Phoebe Cates, Bridget Fonda, Alicia Witt
It?s quite difficult frankly to determine just what this film is about. We have four twenty somethings who don?t really have much of a clue what they want to do next. They are stuck in the redundancy of their lives and each of them rationalize it differently.
Beth (Fonda) and Nick (Roth) as the film opens are moving out of their home in Arizona and heading off for Butte, Montana. Carol?s best friend and Nick?s former lover Carol (Cates) lives next door and like a good neighbor makes it a habit of popping by routinely. On Nick?s last day at work (he?s been fired) he decides to steal a TV but makes Beth do it by handing her a phony receipt. Nick abandons Beth and goes for a long drive to nowhere in particular. In the meantime Sid the painter (Stoltz) shows up and immediately begins lusting after Beth. When it?s apparent that Nick is not coming back, Beth and Sid becomes lovers and he doesn?t get very much painting done.
That?s it for the story as most of it deals with insecurities, pains, struggles, and various other types of anguish. It?s chatty and solves nothing in the end and works best as a road picture when Nick is out and about trying to find himself. The conversations in the house drag on and on and manage to go as nowhere as the main characters are heading. They serve the purpose of filling up space in the plot but they fail to reveal anything particularly telling about the characters. We learn that the kid Sid has lived in the same town his whole life and has never been in love and that Beth has had a series of relationships which she seems to have regretted. Carol and Nick are still close and seem to have a thing still going although there isn?t much evidence in the film that this is true.
Perhaps this film is about how people connect and how they stay connected over considerable lengths of time. Sid claims to be in love with Beth despite having known her for less than 24 hours. He believes that two people can meet and immediately realize they are perfect for one another whereas Beth is far more cynical. Sid is pretty much the only optimistic character in this film. The others are miserable and lay about doing nothing much of anything to combat their feelings of inadequacy. The only one who really wants to break out and try something new is Nick and he proceeds to do just that by driving off in search of his parents. When he arrives at the house he grew up in, an old deaf man and a creepy young girl named Elizabeth (Witt) are now living there and they have no idea where his parents are. They invite Nick in for a sandwich and Elizabeth tells Nick how both her parents died. She clings to Nick in such a way that one wonders just what she?s looking for. She seems old enough to understand the dynamics between boys and girls but young enough to be off limits. I wonder what it would look like if she tried to seduce him. Perhaps she is by holding on and desperately wanting him to see her. The old man is no company for such a budding young thing and one feels terrible and heartbroken when we leave her behind. This Elizabeth is lost in her own world and seems to be in a desperate situation longing for company of even the most illicit sort.
So, Nick drives and Sid moves in on his loose, easy woman. He?s hardly gone twelve hours and she?s already shacked up with the painter which only proves that nobody can truly love or know another. Each is free to make their own decisions and sometimes they end up wandering in strange new directions. For Beth it?s merely the same tired direction and she realizes it as soon as she wakes up from the carnal bliss of the night before. Beth is the most unsure of the group. She?s 28 and restless. She seems to come to a decision that accentuates her vulnerability and places her firmly out of her comfort zone. She appears more to know what she doesn?t want than what she does want.
Carol provides a strange cog in the relationship between Nick and Beth. She and Nick have a playful relationship that Beth sees as somewhat threatening. Carol comes across as world weary and less willing to make a break for it in order to gain elusive insight into her character. She isn?t obliged to look deep into her soul in search of answers revealing her proper place. She?s not so much the wanderer who is never comfortable and always yearning to find that something else that might be waiting just around the bend.
Beth and Sid spend a good portion of this film frolicking in bed. There is a long stretch where they are either making love, basking in the afterglow, or finishing up and moving on with their day. Sid wants to possess Beth with his adolescent, clinging love. He is not mature enough to realize that love is not so easily given especially to one who merely gave in to her animal needs and did not affix the experience with any significant emotional weight. It was simply a rather manipulative exercise on her part and she took full advantage knowing how much in that moment she was wanted and desired. In short she preyed on the simple mindedness of her conquest and satisfied her lusts without thinking twice of the ramifications of her actions. She approached the physical act of lovemaking with all the sexual economy of one who takes what is given because it is so easy to snatch it away and drain it of all meaning. Sid falls into her trap whereupon she provides him with just enough rope to hang himself. She leaves it open and Sid slavishly attempts to prove his steadfast rule about the nature of love to the test.
The performances in this film have a natural quality that is edifying in the end. Tim Roth plays a man who is fed up with the way things have been going. It was his idea to move to Butte and his idea not to go back to the house to help Beth pack away their things. Roth is quite good here at playing a character who is filled with a type of rage that he can not fully articulate. Nick comes across as the type of person who needs a great deal more than he is willing to admit. He?s a bit scared and his tolerance for acute misery or drama is exceedingly low. He leaves perhaps because the prospect of moving to Montana of all places suddenly seems absurd. Bridget Fonda captures the moodiness of her character. Beth is a woman who longs to be exceptional. She cannot bear to rot away in an environment just because it offers her safety and comfort. She is not satisfied with the common, uneventful life no matter how placid and easy it might be for her. Phoebe Cates plays Carol with a heaviness that is belied by a charming exterior that provides her with a false front. Eric Stoltz?s character possesses a tremendous amount of energy at first when he isn?t comfortable with Beth or Carol. As he eases into them he loses his veracity and merely slips into Beth?s pocket and disappears. Then he emerges all heartsick and Stoltz captures the longing in his voice. Alicia Witt is quietly dynamic as the spooky girl Elizabeth who may or may not require certain things from Nick. Witt plays her as having perhaps secret knowledge of things such a young woman is not supposed to know. It?s all in her eyes and posture. There is a willingness there and something potentially wicked but she?s gone too quickly and we never get a chance to find out.
Overall, this film occasionally seems as lost as the central characters. It meanders about, stumbling to and fro without really getting much of anywhere at all. But perhaps that?s the point. Lives to not follow a specific course. People get confused and backtrack or fall completely over and edge into a dank, oily pit. There are, this film would suggest, merely moments that are labeled as more significant than others. Anyplace is good enough until it isn?t and it?s time to move on. People move constantly in search of something they cannot name. Sid has never moved because he has never thought about there being anything else out in the world. Subsequently his view of love is naive as it has not been afflicted with experience. Ultimately, this film speaks to an entire generation of those agitated, restless sorts who can never settle down for a variety of reasons that they are not necessarily aware of themselves.