• Review: Claire in Motion (2016)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Sat Jan 21 01:16:46 2017
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    Spoiler alert: The plot cannot be told without a fundamental

    CAPSULE: CLAIRE IN MOTION is a story not really in motion.
    It might more accurately be labeled CLAIRE IN LIMBO. It
    is a study of a woman living with uncertainty after her
    husband disappears. One approach after another is tried
    to find Claire's husband and Claire slowly changes when
    met by repeated failures. If the viewer is expecting a
    mystery the will be disappointed. This is a story of a
    woman who has lost her husband and what her uncertainty
    does to her. Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson co-wrote
    and co-directed the film. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4)
    or 5/10

    This film is getting some negative comment. That may be
    understandable because it is two different films tied together, one
    much better than the other. It is a mystery about a man's
    disappearance, and it is a character study of a wife who is in
    limbo after the husband mysteriously disappears. It describes what
    living with uncertainty in uncertainty does to her and her son. If
    the viewer thinks of this film as the mystery it will only be a
    frustrating experience.

    Paul and Claire Hunger (Chris Beetem and Betsey Brandt) teach at a
    local college. One day, which is at first like any other day, Paul
    goes off and just never comes back. Claire does all the expected
    things when there is a disappearance. After a few hours she calls
    in the police. But days go by and the police are having no luck in
    tracking down Paul. Many possibilities are considered. Most are
    not resolved and all swell the list of uncertainties. Claire
    discovers details of her husband's life. Some may have been
    secrets or might have been purely innocent, and even some which
    cannot be established. Paul had been doing an art project with
    Allison (Anna Margaret Hollyman) an attractive co-ed that he never
    mentioned to Claire. Allison joins a large set of possible clues
    to Paul's vanishing. Claire gets more and more frustrated. She
    dreams about Paul and looks at old video recordings of him. As
    Claire says, "There is so much uncertainty and we are immersed in
    it." The viewer is also immersed and is not shown the way out.

    The camera seems to also be mysterious about Paul. We never see
    his face. In the first scene in which we see him he is walking
    around his bedroom, but his head is always framed out of the
    picture. We see a shot of Paul hiking in the woods, but again we
    do not see his face, and instead the camera focuses on leaves. The
    camera is more anxious to capture where he is not than to show the
    viewer where he is. As another strange touch, we see pieces of art
    made by Allison and perhaps Paul, but they are either totally
    abstract or just do not look like anything recognizable.

    If the viewer is lulled into expecting this will be a conventional
    mystery it might disappoint some. And seeing the film as a
    character study it is more repetitive disappointment than reward.
    Perhaps CLAIRE IN MOTION needed less Claire and more motion. I
    rate the film a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.

    There may be an unwritten rule that if a film is built around a
    mystery it should solve that mystery. Films in the past have
    alienated viewers by leaving mysteries unsolved. Peter Weir's
    PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK (1975) takes up famous mystery in Australian
    history reenacts it adding some of its own mysterious happenings,
    but then never explains them as if to say, "But we told you it was
    an unsolved mystery." That film was generally well-accepted but
    some viewers complained that they were left hanging. John Sayles'
    LIMBO (1999) leaves open the fate of its characters at the end and
    that angered some audiences also.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper

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