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Case Number 26757: Small Claims Court

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Molly's Theory of Relativity

Adopt Films // 2013 // 101 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // December 29th, 2013

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge James A. Stewart's Theory of Relativity has eleven corollaries of quirky.

The Charge

"Who lays off an astronomer?"

The Case

I can't answer that question with any relevance to real life, but in Molly's Theory of Relativity, Molly (Sophia Takal, Detonator) is an astronomer who isn't quite sure why she was laid off, but worries about it. That leaves her husband Zak (Lawrence Michael Levine, Detonator), who holds down two low-paying jobs, as the main breadwinner. Thus, Molly and Zak have decided to leave New York for Norway, somehow inspired by Molly's expat friend who passed away. Before they go, they have some visitors, and it's rather scary, since it's October 31.

You don't know that right away, though. When we first see Molly and Zak, her husband is in the middle of an argument with his father (Reed Birney, House of Cards). The argument keeps bringing up Zak's sister; while the debate over whether Molly is Zak's sister or his wife rages in my cranium, up pops a bedroom scene with Zac and Molly completely naked making love. Later on, you'll be figuring out which characters are real and which ones are ghosts as visitors parade through Zak and Molly's apartment.

"I make a lot of mistakes in my films," writer/director Jeff Lipsky (Twelve Thirty) says candidly in the commentary. He's honest about plot points that got lost in a camera angle or a failure to mention them explicitly. You'll notice as you listen that he had a well-conceived vision, with flaws in execution.

Scenes tend to run long, and the movie seems claustrophobic—most of it was shot in Lipsky's own apartment—despite the occasional foray into the subway or street and home movies from Norway that get worked in at the beginning. There's also a lot of dialogue.

On the other side of the ledger (since the film's got a cold, hard economy as a backdrop), Molly's Theory of Relativity has its assets. Lipsky assembled a good cast, including Birney, Rebecca Schull (Suits), and Cady Huffman (The Good Wife); there are enough names to knock the star, Sophia Takal, down the IMDb listing. Lipsky also wrote some solid dialogue. It isn't just because Takal and Lawrence Michael Levine are married that they bring a believable rapport to the roles of Zak and Molly. As Molly, Takal gets to have strong scenes with everyone from her husband and father-in-law to her late mother to trick-or-treater Ruby. When you catch up to the story, a few moments are going to hit you.

While you'll notice that Molly's Theory of Relativity is shoestring, the digitally shot movie doesn't look horribly so. The low budget allows for little in the way of ghostly effects, but you get the feeling that Lipsky likes it if you're confused.

In addition to the director's commentary, there's a short making-of segment.

Molly's Theory of Relativity isn't for everyone. If full nudity and sexual references make you nervous, you should skip it straight off. If narrations to introduce characters ease your movie-watching nervousness, you'll also want to avoid this one; it's only occasionally that I feel I should have watched the commentary first, but this is one of those occasions.

The story of a couple plotting a break from a bad economic situation is a downer, but it's a realistic one. Rent it or stream it if you're curious. Quite a few—even among the curious—will decide that's enough, but if you're in the handful that loves Molly's Theory of Relativity, you'll want to buy the DVD.

The Verdict

Guilty or not guilty? Everything's relative.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: Adopt Films
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Drama
• Independent

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Featurette
• Trailer


• IMDb

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