Ever-sexy Billy Crudup makes the most of "World Traveler," the introspective story of a dad who chucks it all and goes on a soul-searching trip across America.
By HEATHER GRAYSON
In so many ways this is a very brave film, set in a time when the Twin Towers still stood as a part of the New York skyline. No beating around the bush this is a character-driven story, an internal journey, not a fast-action joyride so no surprise that "World Traveler" is an indie.
Cal (Billy Crudup, the sexiest man alive) is on the lam. He is running from himself, and the trip takes him cross-country in an old beat-up Volvo. It's a big ol' slice of Americana, complete with Willie Nelson underscoring everything, as we drive down the east coast, then to the Midwest and end up on the west coast.
|Written and directed by: Bart Freundlich.|
Cast: Billy Crudup, Julianne Moore, Cleavant Derricks, Liane Balaban, David Keith, Mary McCormack, Karen Allen, James LeGros, Francie Swift, Richie Dye, Kaili Vernoff, Margaret Devine, Patricia French, Mark R. Gray, David Rivitz, Lucas Rakofsky, Ben Rakofsky..
Part of director Bart Freundlich's bravery is in his keeping the focus on a man's inner struggle, characters who are enslaved to something in themselves (although at some point the ever-changing landscape becomes a character in itself). This soul-searching jaunt includes several cameos: Karen Allen appears for a few minutes as a wise diner waitress, Julianne Moore (the director's real-life partner) finally plays a woman who is less than stunning, and David Keith gives his best performance since "An Officer and a Gentleman."
I found the most touching and tragic of Cal's fly-by-night relationships to be with his construction-worker friend, Carl (simply and honestly played by Cleavant Derricks). Something very real is developing, at least for one of them, which makes Cal's behavior that much more objectionable. Crudup doesn't shy away from being unlikeable at times, so we can be angry and sympathetic with him at the same time.
This movie was one big feeling, like a scream that has no way to get out. While most of the characters stay trapped as far as we know Cal is at least on the move, searching, and Crudup does a subtle and heart-wrenching job. Unfortunately, the search for happiness in oneself isn't extremely interesting, even when you're searching the whole country.
The ending before the ending is cheesy, even by Hollywood daydream standards, but the final moment is brilliant: the movie doesn't shy away from the unlikelihood of happily-ever-after, and yet is able to bring us to some sort of conclusion which I'll let you see for yourselves.
|MAY 7, 2002|
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