"Anger destroys the container it's kept in".
A deeply touching road movie/documentary, "Parallel Lines" follows director Nina Davenport, a New York resident (her apartment was near the World Trade Center) who was working in California during 9/11. When her work ended in California, she realized she wasn't ready to fly, or quite ready to see her beloved home again.
Instead, she picks up a camera and gets in her car, giving herself six weeks to get back to New York City. Along the way, she stops and talks with a widely varied selection of people about their reactions to 9/11. One of the first stops is an emotional interview with a convenience store worker whose elderly grandparents (who she hasn't been able to afford to go see in many years) live in New York. She shares her story with Davenport, talking about how she lost custody of her children.
Other stops throughout the South/Southwest include a brief stop in Vegas (where she meets with the owners of a wedding chappel who saw an increase in traffic), a Manhattan Project exhibit at a museum (where, remarkably, a couple who actually worked on the Manhattan project are there and share their thoughts) and also, a group of outdoorsmen in New Mexico who choose to live in the woods.
A woman who worked in the Murrah building in Oklahoma City that was sick on the day (she was in a doctor's office a couple of blocks away) that the building was bombed talks about her feelings of sadness and devastation. Eventually, Davenport works North, stopping along the way in St. Louis and in the Pennsylvania town where Flight 93 crashed on 9/11, talking there with the town coroner who was there on 9/11. After a stop in Washington, D.C. where she's nearly arrested for having the camera on her car, Davenport heads back to her apartment in New York City to see Ground Zero and spend New Year's Eve in her home.
Davidson is rarely seen in the film, her fairly soft voice only heard in the background asking questions. The interviews are brief, but seem unrushed, with one man, a cancer survivor who has become sick again, talking about how he knew Davenport was okay when she was happy to sit and have a beer with him. Others share their tales of heartbreak, of love and of loss. of dreams broken and born. Some interviewed seem to find that the chance to speak on the camera is an emotional release.
For a film that appears to have been done with Davenport as the star and handling the majority of the technical tasks, "Parallel Lines" is surprisingly solid technically. Davenport's handheld camerawork is steady and the film is superbly edited, with a great flow. I really found this to be a powerful and very soulful, sometimes heartbreaking documentary about how people find it within themselves to cope during times of great sorrow.
VIDEO: "Parallel Lines" is presented by Docurama in 1.33:1 full-frame. For what is essentially a no-budget movie with one person essentially handling everything, the picture looks surprisingly good on DVD. Sharpness and detail aren't terrific, but they are consistently at least pretty good. The picture does show some minor shimmer and a couple of moments of artifacting, but otherwise, the image looks crisp and clean. Colors remained natural and nicely saturated, with no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: The film's stereo soundtrack offers dialogue that generally remains easily understood. There are a few spots where helpful subtitles assist.
EXTRAS: An enjoyable and informative 13-1/2 minute interview with Davenport about the making of the film, bio and trailers for other Docurama titles.
Final Thoughts: "Parallel Lines" is a touching and occasionally heartbreaking poem of a road movie/documentary. While the majority of the interviews are very engaging and occasionally even fascinating, it's also the way that they're stitched together in this movie that leads all of these mostly great parts to add up to an even more satisfying and enjoyable whole. The DVD edition provides very good audio/video quality, along with a few minor supplements. Highly recommended.