Off the Map - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Off the Map Reviews

Page 1 of 10
February 10, 2014
An exceptionally good film. The entire cast, was wonderful.
Super Reviewer
May 2, 2013
Sort of a Zen meditation about the accident that leads us to decide to discover what life is all about, that needs to discover in fact. Sometimes the writing and presentation is awkward but it comes off like well meaning, teenager-in-love awkwardness and, because of that, bearable. Beautiful New Mexico desert scenery dominates. Very approachable.
February 5, 2013
Me & my dads top 10!
December 28, 2012
We watched this last night (while visiting Taos for a week) and just loved it. Powerful storytelling here. Felt a little "made for TV" or if it were made on shoestring budget (indie), but that didn't get in the way of our enjoyment.
½ December 26, 2012
This is a gem of a movie. I don't get the low ratings. It does move a bit slow but that is its strength too. Beautiful views of high sage plains of Taos, NM, quirky family dynamics and the underated Joan Allen brings her A game and inspires the rest of the cast. Jim True-Frost (The Wire, HBO) brings a certain vuneralbility that you can see in the Wire too. The wrestling scene with Elliot and J.K. Simmons seems awkward to the point of making the viewer feel uncomfortable. Hard to do in a movie. True-Frosts character as the IRS agent gone ferrel with art tugs at the universal feeling that we might be wasting or lives in trivial pursuits. The depression of Elliot is the underlying darkness managed with humor and Allen's matter-of-fact attitude. But the tension is there, threatening to squash DeAngelis's Bo character despite her determined upbeat demeanor. It's like going for a hike, the beauty is up to you to see.
October 10, 2012
Doesn't She Have Any Friends?

I don't exactly know people who lived this kind of life. I know plenty of people who had hippie parents. I know plenty of people who were homeschooled. I know plenty of people who lived one kind of unconventional life or another as children. However, even the craziest of my friends' parents would not have raised their children the way the main character of today's film was raised. They went out of their way to ensure that their children had more social experiences than this character did. Even the hippiest of them still had that perverse belief of some parents that all it will take to be friends with someone is being their approximate age and having parents who have something in common. Still, that's better than isolating their child all but totally, miles from anything, never talking to outsiders of any kind. One of the most painful moments in the movie is her wish that the person from the outside would be different, but he became the same.

Bo (Valentina de Angelis) is twelve years old, and she lives with her parents on an isolated chunk of land in New Mexico. They get by on only a few thousand dollars a year, mostly veteran's benefits. Her mother, Arlene (Joan Allen), is your typical Earth Mother type, the kind of woman who weeds vegetable gardens naked. Her father, Charley (Sam Elliott), is a Korean War veteran in a severe depression. They have one friend, George (J. K. Simmons), who is also Bo's godfather. Arlene tries to talk him into getting antidepressants for Charley at the VA hospital, which Charley isn't much in favour of. Also, they are being audited by the IRS. Young William Gibbs (Jim True-Frost) is the agent sent to perform the audit. He is stung by a bee and spends three days essentially comatose on their couch, and when he wakes, he throws away his job (which he'd only held for a month) and moves in, now spending his time as a painter.

We know that Bo grows into Amy Brenneman, and there are worse fates. She seems to be a writer, which is a common career for the children of unconventional parents, at least if you believe the movies. It strikes me, though, that all these stories are the children still unable to move out of their parents' shadows. "This is how interesting my parents were." It's never how interesting their own lives are; it's never the things having such unconventional parents let them be able to explore. It's never the good or bad of their later lives unless it somehow involves dealing with their parents again. Bo wants nothing more than to lead a conventional life, or at least a more conventional life than the one she knows. She is fascinated by William's briefcase. She irons his tie while he is unconscious. She is lost and lonely in ways her parents never identify. She writes to snack companies with false claims that there was something wrong with the product in order to get things free; lemon cupcakes don't exactly grow in the garden.

On the other hand, I was mostly pleased with how Charley's depression was shown. He cries, but not constantly. Mostly, he is silent. He locks himself into small, enclosed spaces. He says nothing to his wife or his child. He takes the drugs, because they tell him they will put them in his food if he doesn't. And given that the film is set in 1974, they aren't exactly state-of-the-art antidepressants. It's not improbable that they will have really horrible side effects. He doesn't want to take them, and he ends up resenting it mightily that Arlene is more concerned with giving the drugs to the chickens than to him, though I will point out that even a single pill a week to a chicken is a much higher dosage than a pill a day to a human. Many more adults than most people realize go through at least one incident of this kind of depression in their lives, and maybe seeing Sam Elliott portray it will encourage someone out there to get some help. People have all sorts of triggers, after all.

I think the popularity of this kind of movie, and there are an awful lot of them, is the idea that people would love to go and live out in the middle of nowhere, hardly needing any money at all. It's part of the Great American Dream--living off the land and not needing anyone else. However, I also think there are conflicting American dreams, and this one isn't mine. I have no interest in living off the land. That's a lot of work, and it's not work I enjoy. I also don't think people really put a lot of thought into what this kind of life does to the children. Okay, Bo was hardly the only twelve-year-old in 1974 who didn't know how credit cards work. There are probably kids today who don't know how credit cards work. But does she know how to make friends? She decides that she's going to start school, and I'm glad, but at the same time, there are problems. It's too late for Bo to get some of the basics of dealing with people her own age; she is always going to be different, and not always for the better.
September 23, 2012
A slice of truly off-beat indie filmmaking. Curious.
½ April 13, 2012
It's weird. I didn't exactly like this film when I saw it. Now though, thinking back on it, I think about it a lot. Is that weird? Anyhow. I probably would have given it 3 stars then - parts I liked, but something just wasn't clicking. The after-effects are why there is an extra half star.
January 9, 2012
I remember watching this movie a lot when I was younger and it's a amazing movie and the story is flawless of how all the high-end stuff,and fancy living won't always make you happy. Off the Map is a wonderful film.
September 4, 2011
loved it!!! funny, witty, deep and gorgeous!!
July 18, 2011
This movie is fantastic! Don't know why I never heard of it before. I should have been nominated for an academy award!
April 12, 2011
Off The Map, marvelously directed by Campbell Scott, is funny and touching and resonates with a beautiful sense of simplicity. Set in the beautiful New Mexico desert where Charley (Sam Elliott) and his wife Arlene (Joan Allen) reside with their 11-year old daughter Bo (Valentina de Angelis, a lovely talent), with the intention of avoiding modern things like electricity and runnig water. In the wonderful script, from Joan Ackermann adapted from her own play, is never exploitative and delicately and amazingly handles Charley's untreated depression, Arlene's eccentricities (she likes to garden in the nude) or Bo's frustration over not having friends. Enter an IRS man (Jim True-Frost) who comes into this modern Garden of Eden and sets off a series of felt changes in the family, changes caught in telling detail by Scott. Allen and Elliott are superb, performing small acting feats. They're both knockouts.
½ April 10, 2011
This one's a gem---see it!
April 2, 2011
An offbeat comedy-drama is the best description for this movie. Quirky and slow moving, but I found it quite funny at times, and the cinematography is gorgeous.
½ January 27, 2011
Shawn Levy said, "You can't get past the knowledge that you've seen it all before, and often better." And I can't help but say, "yes, but that's why I like it."
½ January 25, 2011
racist, terrible script
½ November 16, 2010
This movie was so good. I loved Joan Allen in it and of course I am a huge fan of Sam Elliot. I have been a person who has been in Manic depression and can totally relate. ITS so selfish but its a sickness. And thank God its is a passage. This is a heart warming story of this exact thing. Very touching. Bo is great in this movie. His best friend and the Irs agent are wonderful as well. Interesting to think of this kind of world. A place to sit back and learn and live.

Makes you think.

"Wrestle with me" Thank you George!!! I love that line.
May 8, 2010
This is a period piece that captures a slice of America's great cultural experiment of the 60's/70's in an understated, honest story. It is a subtle tale whose muted tones reflect the sculpted pastel sweep of the New Mexico landscape it is set in. The pace is slow and contemplative, which was the entire purpose of the back to the earth movement. But the performances are authentic enough that it is as much anthropology as drama.

Which is not to say it is dull. It isn't. I was sucked in from the outset. There is more going on in this movie than most films. A strong, charismatic man (played with remarkable restraint by Sam Eliot) is laid low by depression. His wife (Joan Allen) is unwaveringly patient, carrying on with the burden of providing while he is frozen within his malaise. Part Native American, she possesses a fragile beauty but is resolute and deeply grounded in pagan spirituality. Their twelve-year-old daughter (Valentina de Angelis) is bursting with youthful zeal as she begins her transition to womanhood. Irrepressible and precocious, she is isolated in the world of nature and adults.

For reasons that only a federal bureaucracy could plumb, the IRS decides to audit these economic minimalists. The Feds send a rookie auditor into the wilds of New Mexico to hunt down and persecute these hippies who have the audacity to deny the government millstone the grist of their lives. After days of wandering lost, the agent (Jim True-Frost) stumbles upon the homestead while the wife stands naked in the garden. He is stricken first by her beauty, then the family's, finally by the stark splendor of the landscape. He never goes back to the IRS.

There is so much in this story that many of the audience may miss while waiting for something exciting to happen. This movie is not about thrills. Its about beauty and integrity. It is about a great experiment in our culture that is still underway.
Super Reviewer
April 23, 2010
Ok, so the concept behind this movie is maybe better than the movie itself, and the precociousness of Valentina De Angelis's character might be just a bit too much, but other than that, I don't really have any complaints about this movie. It has a good story, interesting characters, good performances and really nice cinematography. It's a smaller, quieter, indie film, and I'm really happy about that. I can't see this film being better otherwise. This movie makes me want to live in New Mexico. I already want to anyway, but this makes me want to even more.
½ April 14, 2010
An extremely accurate portrayal of how depression can affect not just the person involved, but everyone else surrounding that person. The acting is excellent and the story compelling, if a bit slow at times.
Page 1 of 10