Writer/director Rebecca Miller (daughter of Arthur Miller) over-baked the cake when she adapted "Personal Velocity" from her collection of short stories.
Being a feminist, the domestic reference might offend Miller, but even the best intentions aren't enough to darn the holes in her cinematic patchwork.
In the first of three portraits, Kyra Sedgwick is a beaten housewife who flees the nest with three children in tow. Parker Posey is the cookbook editor who must rediscover her ambitions, and Fairuza Balk is ambushed by an unplanned pregnancy.
At the outset, Miller puts an enticing slant on the notion of feminine power. Sedgwick shakes her ass unashamedly and it's all at once sexy, funny and intimidating. Ultimately though, it's just sad.
Posey's segment is witty and audacious à la Sex and the City, but there isn't a heavy enough anchor to keep it from drifting into superficiality.
Balk has the toughest job of all and it shows. She gazes wistfully and puckers ponderously while Miller thrusts the camera an inch from her kohl-shadowed eyes. Alas, no amount of close-ups can get us inside.
Miller's other crutches include a continual use of freeze-framing that diminish moments of emotional resonance, and excessive voice-over narration, leaving the actors redundant.
We're offered such snappy insights as: "She felt the other women's suffering like a vortex, pulling them into her own suffering," as the images patter like gunfire.
It's just one example of a writer out of her depth in the film medium.
If you want a subtly drawn triptych of women on the path to empowerment, go see "The Hours". Miller's film is bold and hearty, but it's also a ham-fisted wallop to the senses. Were this film any less restrained, Miller would risk getting nicked for GBH.