The Safety Of Objects

on March 07, 2003 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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   The latest film from independent American filmmaker Rose Troche (“Go Fish,” “Bedroom and Hallways”) is yet another cinematic diatribe against the supposed emptiness and despair of suburban life. Though not as blatant as other movies on the same theme, such as “The Ice Storm” and “American Beauty,” Troche's drama is even more contrived and unbelievable.

   Set among four families, “The Safety of Objects” centers foremost around the tragedy of Paul Gold (Joshua Jackson), who lies in a coma after a car accident. Overlooking his bedroom window just happens to be the house of his older lover, Annette Jennings (Patricia Clarkson), who has to cope with her newfound loneliness. Meanwhile, lawyer Jim Train (Dermot Mulroney) walks away from his job but doesn't tell his wife, Susan (Moira Kelly). There's also Paul's stricken mother Esther (Glenn Close) who, egged on by her troubled daughter Julie (Jessica Campbell), decides to enter a contest at the local mall to win a car. Other characters, such as Jim's son, Jake (Alex House), who is sexually obsessed with his sister's Barbie doll, are also part of Troche's panoply of life, which is adapted from a series of short stories by A.M. Homes. The film's title refers to the objects--the car, the doll, etc.--that bring succor to people's lives but are no substitute for affection and human connection. Troche certainly thinks this is a startlingly new observation and, no doubt, the film will have its adherents. But they'll have to overlook the fact that “The Safety of Objects” is badly acted by almost everyone concerned, obvious in its metaphors and idiotically structured. As the coincidences pile up and the situations linking everyone in the movie become even more absurd, this ostensibly moving film turns laughable. By the time it reaches its ‘inspiring' conclusion, discerning moviegoers will have left it all behind. Starring Glenn Close, Dermot Mulroney, Patricia Clarkson and Moira Kelly. Directed and written by Rose Troche. Produced by Dorothy Berwin and Christine Vachon. An IFC release. Drama. Rated R for sexual content and language. Running time: 121 min

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