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‘Bodies, Rest & Motion’

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 23, 1993


Michael Steinberg
Phoebe Cates;
Bridget Fonda;
Tim Roth;
Eric Stoltz
nudity, profanity, sexual situations, drug and alcohol abuse

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Every generation spends a while in the navel observatory before learning that it's a shallow, lint-clogged pursuit. Bridget Fonda, Eric Stoltz, Phoebe Cates and Tim Roth do the honors for the post-yuppies in "Bodies, Rest & Motion," an uneven, uneventful get-a-life movie for troubled twentysomethings.

Set in the desert community of Enfield, the story takes place far from the bright lights and big cities that drew their more prosperous Cuisinart and cocaine-loving forebears. There's not a stockbroker for miles, only limited opportunities and lowered expectations in sync with an economic forecast as arid as the Arizona climate.

Generation X, as portrayed here anyway, represents a new working class of retro-hippies who still puree in blenders, get stoned on pot and, given the dialogue, display the "Desiderata" on their walls. "You have to find happiness on the inside," Stoltz, a rooted handyman, counsels Fonda, a waitress who is packing for a trip to Butte, when they first meet. For Stoltz, it's love at first sight; for Fonda it's meeting the right guy at the wrong time. Fonda has a history of going from man to man -- "I don't have to lead my life, I lead theirs" -- and is in the process of realizing this about herself when Stoltz arrives to paint the apartment she and her boyfriend (Roth) are vacating. Roth, basically an overgrown juvenile delinquent, habitually chases his dream from town to town. An easily bored appliance salesman, he's always on the move, though not really in motion.

Both he and Fonda are repeating old, self-destructive patterns in different locations when Newton's First Law takes effect: A body at rest or in motion will remain in that state unless acted on by an outside force. In Fonda's case, it's Stoltz whose instant devotion frightens her into being her own person. In Roth's, it's a sobering encounter on the road to Butte, which he takes alone.

Roth, who's basically gutless, doesn't tell Fonda he's abandoning her, but asks an old lover (Cates) who has since become Fonda's best friend to do it for him. Cates, who is still in love with Roth herself, offers drinks and condolences. With her job at the mall boutique and her tidy house, Cates seems to have her life together, but she really involved herself with Fonda to stay close to Roth.

Meanwhile, Roth drinks and drives, drinks and drives. He passes large cactuses, annoys a Navajo at a gas station and stops for an overdue visit with his mother and father. He is shocked to learn that they've long since moved on. "I've lost my parents," he wails on hearing the news from the current residents. The realization sets Roth on the way back to Enfield and emotional maturity.

Roger Hedden based this blabby play-turned-movie on his own post-collegial malaise and confusion, states that he and director Michael Steinberg have captured all too well in "Bodies, Rest & Motion." Steinberg, who co-directed "Waterdance" with Neal Jiminez, draws sincere, lovely performances from Stoltz, Fonda and Cates, but Roth, a British actor with more technique than talent, runs amok in a flamboyantly juvenile performance. Like the movie, he isn't quite as grown up as he feels.

"Bodies, Rest & Motion" is rated R for nudity, profanity, sexual situations, drug and alcohol abuse.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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