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The Toe Tactic

Lily Rabe Lovely In Emily Hubley's Inventive First Feature

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


The Toe Tactic

Lily Rabe and an animated dog in Emily Hubley's 'The Toe Tactic.'

Four animated dogs provide a talking chorus in Emily Hubley's The Toe Tactic, which has its theatrical premiere at MoMA from January 28 - February 3, 2009. Hubley is best known for her animated work in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and her first feature length film offers a fresh mix between live actors and gorgeous snatches of animation. With a score by Yo La Tengo, the dream-like story follows one aptly named Mona Peek (the immensely appealing Lily Rabe), an introspective young woman who revisits the grief of her father's death after her mother sells the family home.
The quartet of hand-drawn dogs (voiced by Eli Wallach, Marian Seldges, Andrea Martin and David Cross) roots for Mona's well-being. They also manipulate events to their liking, moving physical objects in the human world to create a series of events that push the frequently dazed heroine into action.

Over the course of several days, Mona has unusual interactions with an eclectic cast of recurring characters: an emphatic elevator man (Daniel London) who plays guitar at an open mike, an eloquent, retired literary agent (Novella Nelson) who hires Mona to type up thoughts from sentence fragments, a doleful massage therapist (Sakina Jaffrey) and her adorable son (Sean Moran) who live upstairs. Independent filmmaker John Sayles has a cameo as Mona's building supervisor.

At times, The Toe Tactic suffers from an overdose of quirk and coincidence. Fortunately, the always sympathetic performance of Rabe, in her first starring role, keeps the film grounded. Mona's concerns and pleasures - from the regular avoidance of phone calls from her mother to the joy of a fresh hundred dollar bill - are as real and immediate as the floating dogs are fanciful and poetic.

The Toe Tactic (2009)

Starring: Lily Rabe, Daniel London, Kevin Corrigan, Sakina Jaffrey, Mary Kay Place, Novella Nelson, Sakina Jaffrey
Directed by: Emily Hubley
Produced by: Jen Small, Emily Hubley
Genres: Drama and Animation
Running Time: 1 hr. 24 min.
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