Film Movement // 2011 // 73 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // September 7th, 2012
A coming of parenthood tale for the internet age.
I can't speak for the entire world, but people in this country are utterly obsessed with their little devices, and even with my long resistance, I've fallen victim, myself. We can't navigate our cars without our GPS systems; we feel lost without our smartphones; where would we be without our Bluetooth in our ears shouting at someone in a Walmart. Yet, in spite of what seems to be an increasing disconnect from the natural, social world, humanity goes on. Babies are born, people get married, and we still have friends. Directors Annie Howell and Lisa Robinson explore this idea in Small, Beautifully Moving Parts, a lovely and charming story of a woman making her way through this technological world.
Sarah Sparks (Anna Margaret Hollyman) is a freelance tech who takes a unique love in technology old and new, even going out to interview people on the street about their relationship with their gadgets. She doesn't feel, however, that she can relate to people on the same level that she relates to machines. When she suddenly finds out that she's pregnant, she doesn't know how to handle it and, after she flies from New York to Los Angeles for a disastrous baby shower her sister threw, she decides that she has to figure it out. So she sets out on a road trip into the desert to find her estranged mother, who has gone off the grid.
Sarah is probably the friendliest techie I've ever seen, going around actually talking to people and having a boyfriend, which is especially shocking. Nonetheless, she seems like a really sweet, charming person whom I would like to know, and for me with movie characters, that's pretty rare. It's when she works with machines, though, that her personality really shines. She smiles satisfied at fixing something and admires the simplicity of small devices. Until, of course, she's admiring the design of her pregnancy test, which soon indicates her condition and changes her whole life.
What it really does, though, is change her perception of her life. Her obsession with technology may be intact, but she suddenly realizes that she needs to connect to with actual humanity. This starts her on her road trip that is part funny, part sad, and always emotionally resonant. Directors Howell and Robinson have created a modest, but well written film that works on all level. It's modest, but effective, with nice performances, especially from Hollyman, who is absolutely charming in the lead, and I hope to see her again soon. They don't try to do too much and, as a result, deliver a film that isn't terribly substantial, but works really well on all fronts.
Film Movement's DVD for Small, Beautifully Moving Parts is modest and unassuming, much like the film. The anamorphic image looks good, nice and clear with good colors and black levels. Sometimes, the transfers on Film Movement discs highlight the cheapness of the independent work they present, but this one looks quite strong. The sound is a simple stereo mix that doesn't have a lot to do and gets the job done.
For extras, we have two short films, one by each of the directors. The first, Head Stand, is by Lisa Robinson and shows a woman frustratingly try to pull off a head stand in her yoga class. The second, The Failure of Pamela Salt, is by Annie Howell and is about a failed film student who returns home frustrated to find a little neighbor girl who can do everything she can't. They're insubstantial; the first is better than the second, but both show the potential that is realized in the feature.
Small, Beautifully Moving Parts is a modest film, but a very good one. It's the kind of work I would love to see more independent filmmakers make. Hollyman is an extremely charming lead, who fits perfectly into this charming little film.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Film Movement
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 73 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Short Films
* Official Site