Parents' Guide to

Personal Velocity

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Story about life's turning points is not for kids.

Movie R 2002 85 minutes
Personal Velocity Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Based on 1 parent review

age 18+

More Like Personal Over Indulgence

Rebecca Miller’s second feature movie is just what you would expect to win awards at Sundance and similar festivals. Others can expect to sit through very roughly sketched plotlines - in this case, it’s three rather shallow stories about women that don’t particularly link up well or offer any satisfactory resolutions. The photography by Ellen Kuras consists of some shaky (cheap and trendy) video handheld shots, mostly taken with the zoom lens on extreme tight --producing a nauseating wobble cam-- with the operator attempting to frame the subject within a rocky, sea-sick making image. The ugly, sensationalistic situations and course dialogue are mostly drawn from the perspective of disenfranchised immature females. Some of the title characters prefer to live out female fantasies with all takers (even when in successful relationships of their own making)...actions that predictably lead to utter chaos. All these women are quite unbelievably devoid of the ability to learn from any obvious life experiences or moral sensibilities. It’s difficult to fully sympathise with these somewhat sordid characters or feel all that much empathy for their all too obvious and inevitable outcomes. Performances are OK with Michael Rohatyn supplying a cute minimalist main theme. Rebecca’s Dad, Arthur Miller, may have been a notable and worthy writer but that’s clearly not always guaranteed to transfer to the offspring. As an example of the ‘deep’ and arty writing, consider this line read by the stories narrator: “She felt the ambition drain out of her like pus from a lanced boil”... Strictly for undemanding viewers or the ‘types’ we see introducing movies on Foxtel, etc. Others may give up within the first 15 mins and be better off for doing so.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Although it makes some interesting insights, PERSONAL VELOCITY never quite gets up to speed. Director Rebecca Miller has transplanted her short, ambitiously descriptive sentences from page to screen, taking advantage of the often unflattering effect of shooting in grainy digital camera to mirror the warts-and-all descriptiveness of the text. Kyra Sedgwick clearly relishes the role of steely-eyed, Delia, who leaves the brutal Kurt (David Warshofsky) for a hard new life fending for her kids. Parker Posey plays Greta with a deft touch and apparent ease, providing the least-self-conscious of the storylines and some much needed levity. It is left to Fairuza Balk, who does an excellent job of projecting an iron will and feral impishness, to wrap up the stories with the sadly predictable "answer" to life's big questions. Have a baby.

This dramaturgical triptych is drawn with a surgeon's precision, clearly labeling each heroine with her individual attribute: Delia Shunt is Courage; Greta Herskovitz is Ambition; Paula Friedrich is Hope. Perhaps Miller fears that sentimentality will prevent her characters from being "bony, rough and true", but in taking a knife to the fat of emotions, she has left us a curiously lean dish.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: December 6, 2002
  • On DVD or streaming: March 18, 2003
  • Cast: Fairuza Balk , Kyra Sedgwick , Parker Posey
  • Director: Rebecca Miller
  • Inclusion Information: Female directors, Female actors
  • Studio: MGM/UA
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 85 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: brief violence, some strong sexuality and language
  • Last updated: June 20, 2023

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