This movie is the story of three woman, told in separate segments. Each of the characters has to some extent engaged in self-delusion as to who they really are as persons and each one finds herself in the midst of a major life crisis. As each character deals with their situation, they begin to find out who they really are as persons and to find a possible path to self liberation, happiness and fulfillment in their lives.
Delia(Kyra Sedgwick), is an abused wife and mother, who finds personal liberation by finding the courage to finally leave her abusive husband, and then rediscovers her personal dignity and power through her sexuality.
Greta(Parker Posey), is a wife and daughter, who has lost touch with herself, first by being caught in the middle in a struggle between her powerful, ambitious father and her weaker, more fragile mother for her love and affection, then later in an act of rebellion against her father, by ending up in a loving but passionless marriage in which she has suppressed all her own personal ambitions. An opportunity for success rekindles in her all her own passions and ambition, as she struggles to finally break free from the influence of her parents, to come to terms with her husband and marriage and to be who she really is as a person.
Paula(Fairuza Balk) is a young woman, who finds herself pregnant and who after a terrible accident, in a state of shock starts out on a journey to try and escape and make sense of what is happening to her. An encounter with an abused runaway, helps her refocus on her own plight and discover her own ability to care about others besides her self.
All the acting in the film is excellent, but Parker Posey as Greta really stands out. This is the first film that makes use of Parker's ability as an actress to convey emotion and internal conflict, without dialog, simply by the expression on her beautiful face, and it is absolutely stunning to watch. She turns Greta, who could have been very unsympathetic, into a character that one can care about.
The film looks and sounds beautiful on DVD. The DVD extras include a nice commentary by Rebecca Miller, and a wonderful conversation with Parker, Fairuza, Kyra and Rebecca about the characters and the making of the movie.
This beautifully written, beautifully acted movie is very intelligent and very complex. One that makes the viewer think deeply. Which in an age of almost total shallowness in the majority of films (all flash, no thought!), a movie that stimulates thought is a true breath of fresh air.
There are no tight, neatly wrapped up endings in this movie, you have no way of knowing if the characters have made the right choices in their lives. This makes it tough for audiences and critics to embrace this movie, but if you do look deeply at it, and think about it, you will come to appreciate and love it.