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The Safety Of Objects

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Safety Of Objects

Starring: Glenn Close, Dermot Mulroney
Director: Rose Troche
Rated: R
RunTime: 121 Minutes
Release Date: March 2003
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Joshua Jackson, Timothy Olyphant, Mary Kay Place, Robert Klein, Moira Kelly, Patricia Clarkson, Jessica Campbell

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

With a couple of dozen characters, each with their own, overlapping stories, Rose Troche's exquisitely constructed THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS almost defies review. What is certain is that the saddest part of the movie comes in its conclusion, when we are forced to say good-bye to these newfound friends about whom, in just two brief hours, we've grown to care so much. Although none of the stories sizzles, the collective impact of this slice of suburban life is undeniably strong. The large and talented cast holds the audience spellbound as the film moves seamlessly among the characters.

Centering on four families and their acquaintances, the story at first seems to be full of zombies who are always thinking, "Whatever." Quickly though we come to realize that each has a lot going on just below the surface.

Esther Gold (Glenn Close) is a caring mother whose son, Paul (Joshua Jackson), has been turned into a vegetable by a car accident. In flashbacks we see Paul in happier times when his band played at a local bar, where his girlfriend, an older woman and neighbor named Annette Jennings (Patricia Clarkson), used to come to meet him. Esther is about to participate in an endurance contest to win an automobile, much like the real-life event chronicled in the mesmerizing documentary, HANDS ON A HARDBODY, one of the very best movies that most people have never seen. Esther is trying to win the contest for her daughter Julie (Jessica Campbell), who has some issues and secrets that we'll find out about later.

Jim Train (Dermot Mulroney) is a lawyer who works every day in the city, which gives time for his wife, Susan (Moira Kelly), to meet other men, supposedly innocently, as their kids play together or they change her tires. Jim doesn't know what he wants in life after his firm presents him with a plaque rather than a partnership. At home, he is the anti-fix-it man since everything he touches breaks.

Jim's son, Jake (Alex House), is easily the quirkiest character. Almost a teenager, Jake has an intense, quasi-sexual relationship with a small Barbie-like doll, who talks back to him. He appears to be about to ditch the doll for a cute girl next door who might be willing to play doctor with him.

Helen Christianson (Mary Kay Place) is a religious devotee of healthy eating, which drives her family crazy, forcing them to hide the Pop Tarts. Currently going through a mid-life crisis, Helen has her eyes on Randy (Timothy Olyphant), the young hunk who does her gardening. Annette flirts with him as well.

And these are just a few of the people and their stories, each of which is amazingly well developed and acted.

In perhaps the movie's most telling scene, Jim escapes from his suffocating family at a restaurant so that he can woof down a double martini at the bar. While there, he runs into Annette, who immediately senses what is going on. "Jim, it's the life you've chosen," she tells him. "Don't make like it's not yours." THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS speaks to all of us who have had the urge to run away, if not physically, then at least emotionally.

THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS runs a fast 2:01. It is rated R for "sexual content and language" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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