Particles of Truth



          Set over a 48-hour period in ostensibly contemporary Manhattan,
    PARTICLES OF TRUTH does indeed contain the titular items -- small
  nuggets of veracity buried under a strange and not wholly convincing story.

          Written and directed by and starring Jennifer Elster, the movie starts
  with one of those scenes that make some audience members (including this
  one) cringe: the voice-over narration of the mundane. Elster tips much of
  her hand by alternating between scenes from "today" and "tomorrow" but
  as we have no idea who these characters are or what their connection is
  (or even if there is a connection), it is off-putting.

          Elster's heroine is Lilli Black, a wannabe artist whose on the verge of
  a breakthrough of sorts. Her paintings are being included in a group show
  at a hip gallery. Instead of being happy, though, Lilli is -- well, what
  exactly? She's certainly been bruised by life. Having been raised by a pair
  of deadbeat drug addicts (Susan Floyd and Alan Samulski) has left her
  skittish, insecure and emotionally immature. She's a flawed heroine, and
  it is to Elster's credit that the audience comes to care about the character
  in any manner. This is achieved partly through the script, which fleshes
  out the back story of Lilli's childhood and partly via Elster's ballsy, take
  no prisoners approach to portraying the character.

          The central romance between Lilli and the equally emotionally crippled
  Morrison Wiley (Gale Harold) turns the cliché of romantic comedy "meet cute"
  on its ear. Morrison is a germ-phobic writer who spends most of his time
  driving around in an SUV or passing time in his pristine apartment.
  Something of trust-funder, he is in many ways the polar opposite of Lilli,
  but the pair do have a nice chemistry. Wiley's own parents, an architect
  (a strong Larry Pine) and his loving wife (a terrific Leslie Lyles) are facing
  their own set of crises which Elster handles with subtlety.

          In contrast, the characters of Lilli's religious roommate (Elizabeth
  Van Meter) and her off-the-wall one night stand Will (Richard Wilkinson,
  creepily effective) are devoid of believability, especially when Lilli
  encounters Will on the subway and he robs of her a necklace. That leads
  to a painful (in more ways than one) near-rape scene in a bar's backroom
  that strains credulity.

          Additionally, the fracturing of the storytelling (which owes a bit of a
  debt to films like
URBANIA and 21 GRAMS) doesn't mesh into a coherent
  whole. The somewhat tidy endings undermine the downbeat themes. As
  a first feature,
PARTICLES OF TRUTH doesn't completely work, but
  there are set pieces that exhibit promise. It might be interesting to see
  what Elster does for an encore.


                             
Rating:                 C          
                             
MPAA Rating:      Unrated (violence, language, drug use)
                             
Running time:     101 minutes


                                            Viewed at Magno Review One
© 2005 by C.E. Murphy. All Right Reserved.