Committed


             How seriously should one take the wedding vows? If you promised
     fidelity forever, what does that mean? Those are the underlying questions
     behind Lisa Krueger's second feature
Committed which stars Heather
     Graham as a young married woman who is perhaps a tad too literal. As
     the film opens, Joline (Graham) is preparing to be married. Fully dressed
     in gown and veil, she's apparently trying to cast a spell that will ensure
     her marriage won't go the way of her parents, whose split seems to have
     had a profound impact on her. When her groom Carl (Luke Wilson) drops
     by, she chides him about the superstition that it's bad luck for him to see
     her, but before you know it, they're locking lips. For someone who believes
     in portents, one would think Joline would have been a bit more leery.

             Indeed, 597 days later, Carl, now a food photographer for a local
     Manhattan paper, leaves her. His goodbye note tries to let her down easy
     claiming it wasn't her, etc. When she receives a postcard with an obscured
     postmark, Joline becomes determined to seek her man. Through intuition,
     she figures Carl has settled somewhere in Texas and sets off to find him,
     despite the feeble protestations of her brother (Casey Affleck).

             Krueger has her plucky heroine undergo some trials on the road,
     including a flat and a near mugging, but Joline is like a force of nature
     and will not be stopped. Even when she locates Carl in El Paso and discovers
     he's got a Mexican girlfriend named Carmen (model Patricia Velasquez),
     Joline's spirits do not flag. She befriends Carmen and pledges to watch
     over Carl after Carmen's erratic trucker ex-boyfriend (Mark Ruffalo)
     threatens him. In her surveillance of her estranged husband, she becomes
     a fixture in his neighborhood to the point where his neighbors come
     to know her. One in particular, a sexy artist (Goran Visnjic, exuding
     charisma) almost gets to her, but Joline maintains her reserve. Under
     the tutelage of Carmen's shaman grandfather (Alfonso Arau), she attempts
     to cast spells which will protect Carl.

             Graham manages to make the single-minded Joline less a caricature
     than she could have been, but as she demonstrated in
Austin Powers:
      The Spy Who Shagged Me
, comedy is not her metier. Her Joline could
     drive anyone slightly crazy, so if the audience sympathizes with Carl, it
     wouldn't be a surprise. The problem is that Krueger has made a film that
     is Joline's story. One can have an unlikable figure as the main character,
     but it can prove difficult in maintaining audience sympathies.

             With gorgeous camerawork by Tom Krueger (the filmmaker's brother),
     
Committed possesses a lovely sometimes surreal look. In reaching for
     her own brand of magic realism, though, writer-director Lisa Krueger
     misses the mark. The supporting actors do what they can with their roles
     with Visnjic and Velasquez making the best impressions.
Committed
       
raises some intriguing issues about the nature of love, but by examining
     them through the prism of an unhinged main character, she dilutes
     whatever intentions she originally had.


                                             Rating:      C-
© 2007 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.