Luminous Motion

Bette Gordon’s strange and singular American independent feature (the follow-up to her 1983 debut, Variety) premiered at the Locarno film festival in 1998so why have we had to wait two years to see it in Chicago? The Locarno crowd can’t be any stranger or smarter than we are, so perhaps the director of the festival simply trusts and respects his patrons more than American distributors trust and respect us. Like Time Regained, an even better film that’s playing this week at the Music Box, Luminous Motion explores a mental landscape with some visual flair, according equal status to imagination and reality. Its hero and narrator is a precocious ten-year-old (Eric Lloyd) who’s unwilling to share his beautiful, seductive, dysfunctional, and drifting mother (Deborah Kara Unger of Crash) with anyone, including his father (Jamey Sheridan), whom she left years ago. After she settles down with a suburbanite (Terry Kinney), the son poisons him, though the man returns as a ghost to offer the boy advice. Part oedipal scenario, part dreamy road movie, the film offers so many left curves (including bouts of petty theft and black magic) that you may not always know how to respond, but Gordon is so visually and stylistically inventive and the actors are so skillful that you aren’t likely to lose interest. Scott Bradfield and Robert Roth wrote the screenplay, adapting Bradfield’s novel The History of Luminous Motion. 94 min. (JR)

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