Bodies, Rest and Motion (1993)

Bridget Fonda’s versatile talent is put to much better effect in the more modest, but ultimately more rewarding, “Bodies, Rest & Motion” than in “Point of No Return,” the pointless remake of the French cult film, “La Femme Nikita.” “Bodies” premiered at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival and opens theatrically this April courtesy of Fine Line.

Set in small-town Arizona, the movie explores the spiritual ennui of three youngsters: Beth (Fonda), an aimless young woman, her live-in boyfriend Nick (Britisher Tim Roth), and Nick’s ex-girlfriend Carol (Phoebe Cates). Aptly titled, the narrative applies Newton’s famous law to a set of characters who are in rest (actually inertia) and are only forced to move by an external stimulus.

Bodies, Rest & Motion is the kind of film in which dramatic events happen suddenly and unexpectedly. At first, it appears that Beth and Nick are moving together to Butte, Montana, but then Nick decides to leave on his own. Beth is shocked and upset, though still not at the point of taking control of her life. The outsider who forces her to take charge and do something is Sid (Eric Stoltz), a laid-back, dope-smoking house painter.

The greatest accomplishment of Bodies, Rest & Motion is that it vividly portrays alienation and emotional void–existential issues that always present challenge for a visual and action-oriented medium like film.

Michael Sternberg, who co-directed the wonderfully perceptive movie about paraplegics, The Waterdance, makes his solo feature debut here. And just as he proved last year, he is excellent at coaxing great performances from his cast. Endowed with a beautiful and highly expressive face, Fonda gets a good share of close-ups. For long stretches of time, the movie is silent, with the most significant information conveyed through looks and gestures. Though Fonda plays the chief role, she is surrounded with first-rate cast.

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