“Small, Beautifully Moving Parts” is Smart and Eloquently Funny
A young, soon-to-be mom, estranged from her mother, goes on a road trip to make peace with her past, encountering quirky characters along the way.
This popular “indie road trip” storyline may sound drab in its all-to-familiarity. However, Small, Beautifully Moving Parts, co-directed by Lisa Robinson and Annie J. Howell, has elegance in its understated comedic voice that allows it to rise above the rest.
Though the title is something of a mouthful, the film, a recipient of the 2011 Alfred P. Sloan award at the Hamptons Film Fest, cleanly embraces its meaning. The tech-savvy-ness of main character Sarah Sparks (Anna Margaret Hollyman) remains central to the progression of the film. A hyper-typical New Yorker, Sarah is obsessed with the small, beautifully moving parts of modern technology: she fixes MacBooks and happily chats with her GPS.
Sarah’s attachment to technology, however, prevents her from accepting the natural progression of her pregnancy. Seeing the positive result for the first time on a pregnancy test, Sarah first ogles the simple clarity of the font before realizing its life-changing meaning. Later, Sarah encounters real-life, screaming filthy children at her baby shower, one of whom defiles a MacBook with sticky liquid. Freaked out, and fully aware of her inadequate knowledge about motherhood, Sarah embarks on a mission to find her estranged mother (Mary Beth Peil), living off-the-grid in the desert, to gain some much needed motherly perspective.
Hollyman upholds the film’s charm with an ongoing enthusiasm. Appearing in almost every shot, many of them alone, Hollyman engages her audience with her animated facial expressions and manner. She easily transitions from decidedly detached to decidedly overwhelmed, as her character travels into more remote environments, losing her technology crutch.
It seems that a requirement of every indie flick is the appearance of an overly quirky character, and Small, Beautifully Moving Parts is no exception. Along the way, Sarah encounters her boyfriend’s sister, Towie (Susan Kelechi Watson). Fascinated with astrology and invisible life energies, Towie’s craziness seems to feed off of Sarah’s indelible rationality. Though at times too over-the-top for the overarching subtlety of the film, Towie turns out to be pretty lovable in the end, pointing Sarah in the direction of a terrifying place where technology doesn’t exist.
All in all, this small indie flick is unique in its quiet humor and its ability to stay true to a simple, well-told story. The last part of the film is touching because it is believable; Robinson and Howell rightly steer away from giving their audience a 100 percent happy ending.
GALO had the pleasure of speaking with Robinson, Howell and Hollyman about filming, interviewing tourists, and being a technophile in New York.
(Interview continued on next page)
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