Trauma: Life in NYC
"Particles of Truth" is a low-budget indie about the trials of life in New York that initially seems scattered and off-putting but in time reveals its writer-director's considerable ability and artistic sense.
By JOSHUA TANZER
Here's how our male and female lead characters first meet: He, a rich kid in a black BMW, opens his window and asks her to lunch. She, a penniless downtown artist with an off-putting manner, is tempted to tell him to shove off but she doesn't. He offers her a sandwich out of his back seat, explaining that he rarely leaves his car in order to avoid germs. She turns down his unappetizing offer, but then gets in the passenger seat and orders the turkey. A relationship is born, and with any luck, these two will come to see each other's deeper qualities over time.
Watching "Particles of Truth" feels the same way. It's not an easy story, and its characters are not easy people, to get close to. Still, Jennifer Elster's low-budget indie is brimming with big-time creativity. It just requires patience and an open mind to let the film unfold and reveal its strong points.
|PARTICLES OF TRUTH|
|Written and directed by: Jennifer Elster.|
Cast: Jennifer Elster, Gale Harold, Susan Floyd, Larry Pine, Leslie Lyles, Mark Margolis, Richard Wilkinson, Elizabeth Van Meter, Alan Samulski, Michael Laurence, Victoria Rosen.
Cinematography: Toshiro Yamaguchi.
Edited by: Ron Len.
Related links: Official site
187 2nd Ave at 12th St.
Opens Sept. 17, 2004|| |
The film is an ensemble character portrait of damaged people in different parts of New York City, inspired by but not tied to the collective anguish of Sept. 11. It opens with scenes from these people's lives ordinary daily-life shots labeled "Today," intercut with shots of the same people in the depths of desperation labeled "Tomorrow." As the film continues, these initial visions will be filled out in surprising ways. It's especially interesting how this beginning evokes the shared anguish of Sept. 11, although the story actually turns out to be more about individual trauuma that's rarely shared with others. It seems to make the observation that we carry the pain of life inside us every day and it takes an unimagined horror like this to move those emotions into our collective life.
There are a few clunky lines and scenes, but writer, director and lead actress Jennifer Elster also layers her film with small, unexpected touches. ("Particles of truth," perhaps?) In particular, she has a strong artistic sensibility that offsets the limitations of her low-budget technology. Deep color is found on grungy city streets; dark visions emerge from her character's murky subconscious; and her paintings tie together a lot of the film's troubled emotions. Some key scenes one involving a genuinely frightening act of violence seal the story convincingly. I didn't love everything about "Particles of Truth," but I was won over by the end, coming away with great respect for Elster's abilities and imagination. Her future work could be well worth watching.|
|SEPTEMBER 17, 2004|
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Reader comments on Particles of Truth:
Wow from Erin, May 3, 2005
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