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Luminous Motion Reviews

So much needs to be said in support of adventurous, independent filmmaking such as this that it's a shame to have to mention how awful the results can be. Director Bette Gordon (who once, back in 1984, made the adventurous indie VARIETY) set herself a formidable challenge: filming Scott Bradfield's History of Luminous Motion, a dark hallucination of a novel that takes place entirely within the mind of a brilliant but homicidal child. The results? Well... On the run from a failed marriage, Mom (Deborah Kara Unger) and 10-year-old Phillip (Eric Lloyd) have crisscrossed America's highways and byways so often that their heavily marked road map has begun to resemble the human circulatory system. Life is a series of rest stops, cheap motels and nameless men whom Mom relieves of their watches and wallets during service-station quickies. And Phillip just loves it: Hurtling through space in their run-down car, Phillip thinks of his mother and himself as pure physical phenomena like light and motion, and to ever stop would mean a kind of death. But stop they do, and for Phillip, who's increasingly unable to match the world seen whizzing by with the world he's created inside his head, the consequences are indeed deadly. This is a bold film, full of great visual ideas: Gordon transforms the inside of Mom's car into a glittering space capsule, and the deeply disturbed Phillip's visions (he sees dead people) are given a hyperreal, hallucinogenic edge. But Gordon makes the mistake of preserving Bradfield's highly idiosyncratic dialogue — dazzling on the page, deadly in any actor's mouths — and the otherwise talented Lloyd (THE SANTA CLAUSE) is miscast. He fails to convey the real menace of a precocious child with a serious Oedipus complex and a bright red toolbox full of sharp, shiny tools.