Rebecca Miller’s Personal Velocity had the feel of short fiction — all well-chosen details and epiphanies — but her newest is true to its lyrical title. Like the Dylan-heavy soundtrack, this fall-from-Eden tale of a dying, idealistic father and his devoted daughter jumps among vivid scenarios, boldly sketched characters, and shifting tones.
Jack (Daniel Day-Lewis) and teenaged Rose live alone on a former commune. Their bucolic existence unravels when Jack brings in girlfriend Kathleen, with her two teenaged sons (one witty, one horny and death’s-head moody).
This "experiment" triggers Rose’s Freudian jealousy and sexual curiosity, and Miller tries to capture every moment of the household’s collapse at once, with brisk editing and startling dramatic turns. The beatific Camilla Belle as Rose holds center stage, but also fascinating is Day-Lewis’s craggy-faced contradictory Jack, wasting away like his early-70s-vintage self-sufficient world. Eye-opening camerawork captures the Prince Edward Island setting not as a static set piece but one seething with heady forces.
The film is itself a flawed experiment that may turn some off with its glancing approach and primal symbolism. But like a Dylan song, even if you know where this multi-layered loss of innocence tale is going, you want to hear it through to the last verse.
Opens March 25