Set against constant news reports of heightened terror alerts, the escalating AIDS pandemic and increasingly bad news from Iraq, this unique film from Texas-based writer/director Kyle Henry condenses the anxiety of an era into a disquieting tale of a nickel-and-dimed working-class Houston wife and mother who becomes physically and psychically unmoored. Exhausted from working two jobs and facing the prospect of a Christmas neither she nor her husband (Kenneth Wayne Bradley) can afford, Julia Barker (a sad-eyed Cyndi Williams) has begun experiencing sudden blackouts accompanied by strange visions of a vast, unfinished room in what appears to be an industrial warehouse. After one of these fainting spells causes her to crash her car on a Texas back road, Julia does something impulsive: She lets herself into the bingo parlor where she works at night and empties the safe. With wads of money tucked away in her purse, and not a word to her husband or two daughters (Alexandra Kiester, Hannah Nicolas), Julia then drives to the airport and takes the next plane out of Houston bound for anywhere but here. Her destination turns out to be New York City, the perfect place for lost people like herself to either find themselves or disappear entirely. Arriving at Grand Central Terminal, Julia wanders onto the 7 train and winds up in Queens, where she checks into a drab motel room, meets a stranger at a bar and has anonymous, joyless sex. Apparently convinced that her journey to Fun City is no accident, Julia begins a wayward search across the city for signs that will point her toward her ultimate destination: the empty room she's been seeing in her fractured mind's eye. Winner of the John Cassavetes Award for Best Feature Under $500K at the 2006 Independent Spirit Awards, Henry's film is beautifully shot and extraordinarily well acted by Williams, whose face alone says everything about the plight of working mothers who can no longer make ends meet. The throb and hum of Justin Hennard and Chris Keyland's impressive sound design add just the right dimension to Julia's increasing disorientation, and help draw this impressive film to its abstract and appropriately oblique conclusion.
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- Released: 2006
- Rating: NR
- Review: Set against constant news reports of heightened terror alerts, the escalating AIDS pandemic and increasingly bad news from Iraq, this unique film from Texas-based writer/director Kyle Henry condenses the anxiety of an era into a disquieting tale of a nicke… (more)