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Personal Velocity Reviews

Writer-director Rebecca Miller adapts three of her own short stories into a trio of tightly focused, beautifully acted half-hour films. Subtitled "Three Portraits," they paint pictures of three very different women, each of whom regains her footing in life after finding what one character describes as her "personal velocity." First up: Delia Shunt (Kyra Sedgwick), a married mother of three whose power once lay in her sexuality; Delia always knew how good she looked in a pair of tight blue jeans. Once married, however, sex inevitably became about something else, and Delia soon sank into the inertia that comes with raising three kids while standing by an abusive husband (David Warshofsky). One night, after a particularly brutal beating, Delia finally walks out, and winds up at the home of a high-school acquaintance (Mara Hobel) in another town. Now on her own, Delia must rediscover the power in those blue jeans. Next is New York City book editor Greta Herskovitz (Parker Posey), whose sluggish career is given a unexpected jolt when a hot young novelist (Joel de la Fuente) personally requests she edit his new manuscript. No one's more surprised than Greta herself, whose ambition drained away years ago when she dropped out of law school and opted for a simple life with her husband, Lee (Tim Guinee), a mild-mannered New Yorker fact checker. Now positioned to become one of the hottest young editors in the city, Greta realizes her old life is due for an overhaul. The last story concerns Paula (Fairuza Balk), a waitress with scattered ambitions who's nearly killed in downtown Manhattan when a car swerves out of control and hits the man walking beside her, a stranger with whom she had just switched places. Fleeing the scene in a panic, Paula jumps in her car and heads north, hoping to untangle this strange twist of fate while deciding what to do about the fact that she's pregnant. Paula, who believes in signs and superstitions, can't help but think the events are somehow related. Her search for karmic balance is further complicated when she stops to pick up a hitchhicker (Lou Taylor Pucci), a badly abused teenage boy in desperate need of help. Cinematographer Ellen Kuras shot all three films on video using a herky-jerky camera technique, and the effect is occasionally dizzying. All three actresses are simply dazzling, particularly Balk, who's finally been given a part worthy of her considerable talents.