Sunday, April 24, 2011

3 Backyards (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

3 Backyards

All of nature is alive and quivering. Such is the case in the film "3 Backyards", the new film by Eric Mendelsohn (Judy Berlin). The film focuses on three people all linked by their suburban backyards. You never know what is cloaked behind the green foliage. 

There are eight-legged things lurking there. There are worms crawling. And hidden humans with secret fears and forms. The film has as much riveting tension in the unsaid as anything by Robert Altman or the author Raymond Carver and the anxious mystery over what might happen is wound as tight as a constricted garden hose.
Elias Koteas plays John  who is always traveling , with the blight of an anemic  marriage. Edie Falco is Peggy  a star struck housewife who is taken with the glare of fame and then bugged by resentment. And a stand out is Rachel Resheff as Christina, a dreamy and passive youngster who is transfixed by her mother's gold bracelet, even to the point of an encounter with a loner who may be a sexual predator. This film unfolds like life itself, there is no artifice or elaboration. These characters move by themselves in their own sway of joy or sadness. Like the wild creatures in "The Last Lions" these men and women move within Nature, becoming beasts of compulsion or beat up creatures boxed in their own subtle sadnesses.
When John is captivated by the mystery of a woman in a blue dress (Danai Gurira), he is struck by her enigmatic gestures and it is anybody's guess if he might actually talk with her. In "3 Backyards" nothing is defined, everything is hinted at in geometric segments like the physical backyards in the film itself. The audience gets pieces of a jigsaw, links in a gold chain or a filmed bracelet that might just owe a debt to John Cheever's "The Swimmer". We watch and wait like a neighbor. Either Grace, the white standard poodle, returns to her owner or she doesn't and we entertain each possible chance outcome which is glimpsed with such deliberate  watchfulness that it almost seems supernatural.
To see 3 backyards is to witness everyday people deep within their own habitats and rhythms.  Every character has a natural curiosity as rich as any African cat.

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