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Bodies, Rest & Motion
WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
Bodies, Rest & Motion is a film about a particular generation. You might call it Generation X, but according to this disc's commentary, the filmmakers' intention wasn't to make a film about Gen-Xers searching for meaning but rather a more universal portrait of inner angst among young people. Director Michael Steinberg and screenwriter Roger Heddon have chosen to portray this inner struggle in light of Newton's First Law of Motion, which states that objects at rest tend to stay at rest, and bodies in motion tend to stay in motion, unless acted upon by an external force. The result of this approach is that in Bodies, Rest & Motion, you have a lot of characters not doing a whole lot.
The film takes place in a small town outside Tucson, Arizona. There's a strange triangle of tension occurring between Beth (Bridget Fonda), Nick (Tim Roth), and Carol (Phoebe Cates). Beth and the restless Nick live together in a small rented house while Carol, Nick's old flame and Beth's best friend, lives right next door. Nick and Beth have go-nowhere jobs, and when they're together at home, they just lay around and talk in monotones. Something is definitely missing from these lives. Strangely enough, the plot starts moving not because of the effect of an external force but rather because Nick has decided to leave his job and at an appliance store, steal a TV, and move to Butte, Montana, land of dreams and new opportunities. What Nick doesn't tell Beth is that he plans to go alone.
What follows is a frustratingly inert drama that switches back and forth from Nick's baffling personal odyssey and Beth's struggle to deal with the emptiness of her own life. She finds momentary solace in trippy house painter Sid (Eric Stoltz), and Carol smokes some home-grown, and Nick drives a lot, but we never really know these people. We're supposed to feel empathy for these characters' angst, but how can I feel empathy when I don't know the slightest thing about them? All of these characters just need a swift kick in the ass. And I'm even a part of their generation.
It is with regret that I find myself frowning at this movie's empty earnestness. I like all the players. Bridget Fonda, in particular, is one of my all-time favorite actresses and acquits herself magnificently here. Eric Stoltz does an admirable job as both producer and actor, providing the film's only comic relief. Phoebe Cates remains fun to watch. And Tim Roth, despite horrible hair and annoying smoking idiosyncrasies, fits into his role nicely. Also, watch for a cameo by Bridget's dad, Peter Fonda, in a wink-wink role.
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Image Entertainment presents Bodies, Rest & Motion in a generally pleasing anamorphic-widescreen transfer of the film's original 1.85:1 theatrical presentation. Detail is pleasing but tends to get lost in shadows. Dark scenes tend toward murkiness. I also noticed minor flecks and flaws, as well as shimmering (for example, against the cacti in some scenes) and very minor edge halos.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
Incomprehensibly, the disc offers three sound options. Bodies, Rest & Motion is an almost completely non-dynamic audio experience, so it's strange to be given so many options. Honestly, the included Dolby Digital 2.0 track would have sufficed. But we also get a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a DTS 5.1 track! I noticed no appreciable difference between the 5.1 tracks. In both, the film's dialog is clear, and the score (which I think is completely wrong for the film) comes across as lively and bright. Both tracks provide a good low-end presence when needed—for music and for the one demanding scene in a thunderstorm. Surrounds are limited to the score.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
The disc includes a nice selection of supplements. First up is an Audio Commentary with director Michael Steinberg, screenwriter Roger Heddon, and producer/actor Eric Stoltz. Each participant was recorded separately, and the results were edited together fairly seamlessly. Each talks about his take on the meaning of the film—that it's about ordinary people of a certain generation struggling with a universal conflict and yearning for meaning. They talk about the symbolic importance of Tucson as a setting, and Stoltz talks about his experience as a producer. There's also a nice anecdote about Tim Roth and a phone call from Harvey Keitel.
Next is a 6-minute Featurette about what the film is about. The primary actors talk briefly about their characters, and about the generation they represent.
Next is a 7-minute Behind the Scenes piece that gives you a fly-on-the-wall look at the preparation and filming of a few scenes. Bridget Fonda does a lot of sitting around, making me wish I could just sit with her and talk with her a while. She's so great. Mmmm.
The final feature of note is a 3-minute selection of Rehearsal Footage, which lets you view a split-screen comparison of rehearsal shots versus the finished film. You can choose to listen to the rehearsal audio or the finished audio. Cool feature, but too short.
You also get a full-frame Theatrical Trailer and a Television Spot.
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
Bodies, Rest & Motion is a hollow little movie, but it sure is earnest. The DVD presentation is above average, providing good image quality, abundant sound options, and a generous array of supplements. Still, consider this one a rental.