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Luminous Motion

Not Rated
Starring Deborah Kara Unger and Eric Lloyd; Terry Kinney and Jamey Sheridan
Screenplay by Robert Roth and Scott Bradfield
Based on the novel by Scott Bradfield
Directed by Bette Gordon

IN SHORT: another very cool psychological stomach turning twist movie (and we never saw it coming)

A couple of other reviewers and I looked at each other after seeing Luminous Motion last March and, basically, said to each other "what the **** was that???" I can only speak for me when I write that my reaction was extremely positive. What appeared, at first, to be another tale of a fleeing parent on the road turns into an entirely different kind of nightmare.

Right from the start, ten year-old Philip (Eric Lloyd), the first person narrator of this little tale, tells us that his memories of his childhood are like a ghost town. He isn't sure what was real and what was illusory. As he guides you through a year on the run, from the law and from his dad (Jamey Sheridan) with his mom (Deborah Kara Unger), you won't be fully sure if the hard edged candy coating on the story is a set up for a psychological mind shock that you'll never see coming. And if you accept what you see before your eyes, the growing anticipation of a horror even worse will leave you restless in your seat.

It's obvious that Phillip isn't exactly living a healthy lifestyle. His point of view is the back of his mom's Chevrolet Impala. Philip gets to check out each guy mom picks up for the night; gets to hear the blow by blow encounters, compliments or descriptions, while he tries to read his science books by the glare of neon lights. His normal life includes a mom who likes to drink; who likes to pick up guys who like to drink. Mom can out drink and out-sleep 'em all and, when morning comes around, she walks out with wallets and watches and everything in the motel room that she can get her hands on. Phillip keeps it all safe in a strongbox stored under the car seat. They both track their journey on a map -- so as not to hit the same town twice. Always watching for the law. Always on the run.

It's the kind of life that might be exciting at seven or eight -- think of the adventure of roaming "the world"; the cheap thrill of petty theft and flight to avoid prosecution -- and it is. To Phillip. Mom is getting tired and, after an automobile accident that almost totals the Impala, she finds a good place to settle down, with a carpenter named Pedro (Terry Kinney). Both adults are thinking permanent relationship but Phillip wants to get back on the road with his mom. Phillip gets his way and how he does comes at the moment when Luminous Motion moves into the realm of the truly creepy.

Dad finds them anyhow. Philip starts accepting advice from beyond the grave, though there is no resemblence to surprise as in The Sixth Sense. Director Bette Gordon uses a simple optical effect to make you think you know when Philip is seeing reality (versus his admitted fantasy world) but it's a sucker punch that will have you squirming in your chair before you see it coming.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Luminous Motion, he would have paid...


No big stars. No big studio or ad budget. This is the kind of arthouse flick that crits like Cranky crow about. Every once in a while a really good one comes along that may have no chance. Hopefully you'll get the chance to see this one.

Click Here!

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