FILMS

Sitting in limbo

Two Generation X women suffer their own big chill

Brian D. Johnson May 10 1993
FILMS

Sitting in limbo

Two Generation X women suffer their own big chill

Brian D. Johnson May 10 1993

Sitting in limbo

Two Generation X women suffer their own big chill

BODIES, REST AND MOTION Directed by Michael Steinberg

Even discounting the cadence of its title, the movie bears a striking resem-blance to sex, lies and videotape (1989). Bodies, Rest and Motion is another wry existential drama about two women, a selfish male with designs on both of them and a disarming stranger who disrupts their lives. And it, too, addresses the quandary facing so-called Generation X—young adults who have seen the future and drawn a blank. Despite the parallels, the new film is not derivative. American writer Roger Hedden adapted it from his own play, which premiered before sex, lies and videotape was made. Bodies, Rest and Motion is a less impressive movie. But, considering that it is largely about inertia, it has surprising vitality and wit.

The film borrows its title from Newton’s First Law of Motion, which states that a body will remain at rest, or will move in a straight line, unless acted upon by an outside force. The bodies at rest are Beth (Bridget Fonda), a bored waitress, and Carol (Phoebe Cates), a neighbor who works in a mall. Beth is resigned to living with an uncaring TV salesman named Nick, played with twitchy intensity by Tim Roth. He is the body in motion, compulsively changing towns and jobs. One day, he tells Beth that they are moving from Arizona to Butte, Mont.—but instead he leaves without her. Beth seeks solace from her friend Carol, who is also Nick’s ex-lover. Then, in walks Sid (portrayed by Fonda’s real-life boyfriend, Eric Stoltz), a cheery tradesman who has come to repaint the house—and ends up renovating everyone’s relationships.

Director Michael Steinberg frames his drama with bold use of music and landscape. He intercuts haunting images of the Arizona desert with the alien geometry of escalators and strip malls. The drama itself takes place largely indoors, with the actors playfully negotiating the edges of an unpredictable script. Fonda and Stoltz perform a love scene of shocking intimacy, although there is no graphic nudity. Roth, meanwhile, is the consummate desperado. Bodies, Rest and Motion is about inertia, but it never succumbs to it.

BRIAN D. JOHNSON