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‘Bodies, Rest & Motion’

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 23, 1993


Michael Steinberg
Phoebe Cates;
Bridget Fonda;
Tim Roth;
Eric Stoltz
Under 17 restricted

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"Bodies, Rest & Motion" isn't bashful about invoking Stephen Soderbergh's "sex, lies & videotape." Like "sex, lies," it's a series of post-boomer, where's-my-life-going? encounters. It doesn't hurtle narratively forward. It idles ruminatively. Fine Line Features, the movie's distribution company, has even duplicated the "sex, lies" logo for its advertising poster.

But "Bodies," a slow-burning affair about romantic shiftings among Bridget Fonda, Tim Roth and Eric Stoltz, is enjoyable on its own terms. It has barely enough wisdom to fill a fortune cookie but it's no pain to sit through.

In their mellow-dramatic musings, Fonda and company don't seek -- or deserve -- judgment. They aren't pretending anything. They're just caught in the throes of, well, twentysomething stasis as they lie around in bed, yak about the nature of love, drive to the mall and even smoke a little marijuana. To spend time with them, amid the striated reds and sun-baked browns of Arizona, is nothing worse than a diverting waste of time.

Waitress Fonda has been doggedly faithful in her relationship with shifty TV salesman Roth. They lead a minimal, mall-culture existence in the middle of the Southwest desert. Next door is Phoebe Cates, Roth's former lover and now Fonda's best friend. They are three Bodies in search of Motion. Screenwriter Roger Hedden, who adapted "Bodies" from his play, gives them a double narrative push: Roth, who believes that Butte, Mont., is the city of the future, decides it's time for him and Fonda to leave Enfield, Ariz. On the eve of departure, Fonda meets house painter Eric Stoltz.

There are a few other developments that, in the interests of surprise, ought to be withheld. On the road to Butte, Roth has the laid-back equivalent of a Road-to-Damascus experience, when he stops in at his childhood home. And Fonda is suddenly forced to question the direction of her life. Stoltz, assigned to repaint the house Fonda and Roth have vacated, shows an immediate interest in Fonda. A local boy who has never left Enfield, he is entirely free of wanderlust. "Traveling has no allure for me," he states simply, before adding, "maybe through time."

A veteran of passionate affairs, and a restless spirit besides, Fonda finds Stoltz attractive but sees no future between them. But Stoltz remains steadfastly romantic. Director Michael Steinberg, who co-directed the memorable "The Waterdance," gives this stalemate of the heart as much import as it can take -- which isn't a great deal. The movie -- whose title refers to Newton's First Law of Motion, in which a body at rest or in motion will remain in that state unless acted on by an outside force -- doesn't ask for more than your static indulgence.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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