Title: Speed of Life
MPAA Rating: NR
Director: Liz Manashil
Starring: Ann Dowd, Ray Santiago, Vella Lovell
Runtime: 1 hr 16 mins
What Is It: In 2016, June is a woman feeling like her relationship is lacking something, that “big gesture” quality to convince herself that she’s moving forward in life, that everything will work out in the end before it’s too late. After finding out that David Bowie just died, June falls into a frantic state in pushing for her joke-throwing partner Edward (Santiago) to make that gesture. In the midst of calming her down, Edward accidentally runs into a time rip in their living room and disappears. Twenty-five years later, American people of retirement age are forced to move into assisted living. An older June and her neighbor, on the brink of being transferred from their homes, plan to flee the country when Edward suddenly pops back into the timeline. Torn between keeping her long-lost lover or leaving for good, June struggles with the mistakes and heartbreak of the past in order to dictate what’s to be in their future.
What We Think: This is a first as far as the whole David-Bowie’s-death-is-the-initial-incident thing. Which is interesting. And, as a starter to this review, I actually really commend it. As a story mechanism, I think it represents a lot of what is successful in this film as far as its intention and what it has to get across. The pressure of time flying and eventually aging and death puts a real spark into all the characters. The David Bowie thing sort of makes it feel grounded in reality–once June experiences someone who, as she puts it, seemed sort of immortal passing away, it makes her realize that she and everyone else has to follow suit eventually. It was an interesting twist to see someone then randomly fall into a hole in time and then, bam, it’s twenty-five years later. How the subject of mortality is handled is wonderful. The film takes it gracefully and sometimes humorously, but thankfully of all it feels all very real and articulate. Dowd’s performance is sweet and sad as she faces the last stretches of her life as well as the downfalls of her past. Pretty well written, as it takes after very real and relatable concerns bred with what felt almost like theater dialogue, the story as whole leaves you remembering to cherish what it is you already have that’s good while it’s still good. It’s not bleak, it’s not cynical, but a refreshing take that intends to embrace living in the now. The performances and the visuals (though most of them simply two-shots) are solid, nothing distracts from the main themes. While there’s a subplot around a budding romance between supporting character that really slows down the movie, as well as the pace slowing down after the first/second act, it’s still a nice little film that serves positively.
Our Grade: C+, Honestly I don’t know how much this film will stand the test of time within my memory namely due to the immense decrease in pacing as the duration continued as well as quite a few forgettable if not childish scenes, but for now I can say that for the first viewing I thought it very well-handled in its acting and themes. Ann Dowd is wonderful to watch–graceful, striking, and admirable in a seasoned performance about a woman coming to terms with aging, love, and a wormhole in her living room.