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Off The Map

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 5 Star Rating (1 Review)

By

Sam Elliot, Joan Allen and Valentina de

Sam Elliot, Joan Allen and Valentina de Angelis in "Off The Map"

With his third movie, Campbell Scott has found a gentle, knowing rhythm as a director. His pitch-perfect adaptation of Joan Ackerman's play centers on the unusual Groden family--Arlene (Joan Allen), Charley (Sam Elliott), and their precocious daughter Bo (Valentina de Angelis)--who literally live off the map: no phone, no TV, no significant source of income. It takes the hapless IRS auditor (Jim True-Frost) more than two days of circular driving in the New Mexico desert before he finds their isolated home.
Very little dramatic action takes place in "Off The Map." Sam Elliot cries at the dinner table. Clinically depressed, he never suffers a showy cinematic breakdown. Restless young Bo seems on the verge of a rebellion which never happens, because she loves her junk collecting mother, her monosyllabic father, and her father's slow-witted friend Jack (J.D. Hawkins) who takes her fishing. She even loves the tax guy. The tax guy, a wonderful character who defies expectations, discovers Arlene naked in the garden and professes his passionate love. Arlene thanks him.
All of the performance in "Off the Map" are wonderful, from Joan Allen (who is also receiving acclaim for her lead performance in "The Upside of Anger") to Valentina de Angelis, who pulls off a remarkable feat in her onscreen debut, conveying the real complexity of a child, smart-alecky and smart, playful but also serious. The quietly eccentric characters in "Off The Map" come off as genuine, fascinating, and extremely likeable people. Their sad, happy lives are a pleasure to watch unfold.
User Reviews

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 5 out of 5
Off the Map, Member LynzzR

What a beautiful experience! It is a finely crafted dish lovingly prepared; I was able to savour every morsel and be sustained, uplifted and purified by it. I cried and laughed, perhaps because particular moments resonated with my life experience and with the moments I still want to experience. Growing up as a bit of a wild child myself both in Australian bushland and Pacific paradise, I identified deeply with the film as a celebration of the landscape and plausible relationships to it. Yes, it was beautifully shot and the New Mexico landscape is breathtaking, but it has taken great sensitivity to capture it in ways that aren't cliched and sensational. I would love to go there and feel the dirt beneath my feet and declare the connection; that we are one. ""Off the Map"" is joyous, loving and reverential in its study of a group of people, of which any one of us could be a member. It shows us to be simultaneously ordinary, superbly amazing, confused and crystal clear in our un-extraordinary existence. It also has a serenity that is remarkable in 21st century film. This has a lot to do with the characters, who are allowed to be without an insistent imperative to develop and transform. Yet, they all do, in their own quiet ways. Like any review, I can pretend to assess the film on its artistic and technical merits, but ultimately, only its capacity to reach out and touch you is worth commenting upon. And, wow, this film got me!

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