Bodies, Rest & Motion

1993, Movie, R, 93 mins


Michael Steinberg's ensemble drama, BODIES REST & MOTION, attempts to make sense of the mild angst which four twentysomethings feel in their search for their places in the world. While grappling with the lofty issues of relationships, life's meaning, and complacency in the nineties, the film unfortunately slips away in a muddle of talkiness and cosmic hyperbole.

Beth (Bridget Fonda) and Nick (Tim Roth) are about to leave their small town existence in Arizona, for the bright lights of Butte, Montana. On Nick's last day as a television salesman, he steals a Sony, implicating Beth when she picks up the set. She's furious at him for putting her at such risk, while he has second thoughts about their relationship.

He leaves Beth behind and heads off alone for Montana. While packing up her apartment, a free spirited painter, Sid (Eric Stoltz), shows up to do the walls for the next tenant, and they spend the night together. The next day while it is clear that for Beth it was a one night stand, Sid has fallen in love. Meanwhile, after two weird encounters with an Indian and a deaf man, Nick has had a change of heart and decides to head back to Arizona.

That night, Nick arrives back and has a heated debate with Sid. Nick finally admits he probably wasn't in the relationship for the right reasons anyway, and he tips Sid off that Beth is most likely heading to Florida where her parents live. Sid drives off in search of Beth and for the answers to life's questions.

BODIES, REST AND MOTION has repeatedly been labeled as the film of films identifying Generation X--the age group between the babyboomers and the MTV masses. The movie is destined to disappoint if expected to be a prescription for what ails this particular demographic group. It is simply an intimate character study, and one that doesn't work very well. Director Michael Steinberg offers a too talky, metaphysically-slanted think-piece. The film starts weakly--a hazy, slow-paced turning point in the protagonists' lives--and only kicks into gear after Nick leaves town, although a sense of hopelessness already permeates the film.

Screenwriter Roger Hedden makes a genuine effort to portray the story of people falling in and out of each other's lives, but it isn't enough to carry the picture. Steinberg should have tried to make some sense of it all, rather than filling up the screen with surreal images of the desert, and bizarre fringe characters. The numerous wordy sharing and caring scenes--rather than providing focus or clarity--slow the pace still further.

Overall, while there are some genuinely funny moments, the characters never really connect with one another to make the viewer care about their plight. When Sid drives off to try to find Beth, there is no sense of resolution, or even anticipation. This ambiguity probably best illustrates the theme Steinberg was trying to evoke throughout the movie. The acting by the four principals is solid, but no one jumps off the screen to save the picture.

BODIES, REST AND MOTION needs a better front story to push the proceedings along. The strength of it, the subtext of revolving door relationships, would have been better served if allowed to remain more subtle. The film, while occasionally thought-provoking, raises too many unanswered questions, without stimulating much desire to come up with any answers. (Profanity, substance abuse, sexual situations.) leave a comment

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