Small, Beautifully Moving Parts
Plays at Cinequest in San Jose
Mar 7 at 5:00 PM, Mar 9 at 7:45 PM, and Mar 10 at 2:15pm
by Richard von Busack
Sarah Sparks (Anna Margaret Hollyman) is a NYC fix-it girl who relates better to electronics and other machinery than people. When she discovers she’s pregnant, she decides to head west for a quick visit to relatives: including her distracted dad who lives in Santa Barbara, and her Las Vegas-based, New Age crazed masseuse sister-in-law. Eventually, Sarah confronts the real problem in her life: her remote mother (Mary Beth Peil) who lives among the saguaros in Arizona, and who has all but abandoned her daughter years before.
File under the knocked-operas prevalent in indie cinema asking, “my parents were toxic. How do I know I won’t be?” Unfortunately for writer/directors Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson, we’ve been on this road trip before, and Hollyman’s lightweight charm can only lift this attenuated film so far. And then there’s the matter of the resemblance to Away We Go in the film’s form; Paper Heart, in the existential questions Sarah asks of unwitting civilians (who look wary),and The Darjeeling Express in the way a spiritually-attuned mother can also be a washout as a parent. What’s intended as the biggest laugh in the film is sitcom: a guest at mom’s ashram: “We’ve taken a goddamn vow of silence!”