The story of an eleven year old girl whose eccentric and free spirited family is affected by her father's depression and other outside forces. — Genre: Feature Film-Drama — Rating: PG13 — Release Date: 3-APR-2007 — Media Type:... more » DVD« less
Leah G. (Leahbelle) from GROVER BEACH, CA Reviewed on 8/4/2012...
This movie was a big surprise and worth watching every minute of it. The characters are wonderful and the characters are very real.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Robert G. (rural631) from SPRINGFIELD, MO Reviewed on 11/7/2010...
This movie is something rare....a thoroughly good movie from beginning to end. Great performances by everyone.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jane H. (Janie) from SPRING HILL, FL Reviewed on 2/8/2010...
Joan Allen and Sam Elliott in a sensitive drama.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Slow, easy, spiritual, contemplative. A reward for the patie
Traveler | New England | 08/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Off the Map" reminded me a bit of "Lost in Translation." The stories are completely different, of course. But there is a similarity in tone and texture. Both movies are more interested in showing the audience how their characters change and evolve than in advancing a traditional plot with a conflict and resolution. Some people who disliked "Lost" might like "Off the Map." However, I'm almost certain that anyone who did like "Lost" will find this movie as equally enjoyable.
The plot of this movie has been written about several times here so I won't repeat most of it. Briefly, it's about a family of three, two parents and a young girl, who live in a secluded house in New Mexico (no running water, no electricity) and live on less than $5000 a year, who are visited by a young inexperienced IRS agent. The story is about how they all change as their lives intertwine in the midst of the beauty of the New Mexico high desert.
New Mexico in itself is a character in this movie. I briefly lived in Santa Fe and I completely related to the IRS agent's feeling of awe and inspiration. Unlike some other viewers, however, I felt that the movie failed to convey some of the majesty of the region. In one of the extras on the DVD the producers talked about how they didn't want to make the scenery "too beautiful," as if it were some form of tourism porno. Perhaps the problem is that I saw the movie on the small screen and not the theater because it seemed to me that they went too far in the other direction. I have stood in the desert, like the IRS agent, and felt overwhelmed and inspired. I understood the character's reaction, but didn't really see why he was reacting the way he did within the context of what they were showing in the movie.
Which brings me to one of the best moments in the movie. The IRS agent thinks he's in love with Arlene, the mother, who appears to be mildly amused by his attention. There's a key moment when "Map" shifts into gear as the agent gazes upon the New Mexico scenery as the sexy song "Mrs. Jones" plays on the radio. As the producers commented, in another movie this would be the moment that the affair began, not smoldered and blew out.
The acting throughout is human and true. There's not a weak performance in the entire movie.
"Off the Map" won't be the most exciting movie you've ever watched. But it is a rewarding experience that shows you just how good the movies can be, despite all the cliche tripe that passes for entertainment at the multiplex.
(Note: If you crave more I recommend the book "The Handyman" by Carolyn See. "Map" borrows a few key elements from the book which tells the story of a young artist and how he changes people's lives as he works as a Mr. Fix It in southern California. It's not as good as this movie (surprisingly), but it does continue the story of art, contemplation and changing people's perspectives on the world.)"
Enchanting, mesmerizing, spiritually intense
Luca Graziuso | NYC | 07/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The gentle rhythm of the movie is a gesture that penetrates the mysterious glow of nature with intense wisdom. I cannot recommend this movie enough. Director Campbell Scott accentuates the poetry of nature through a stark depiction of a land stripped of human adulteration. The movie is an adaptation of Joan Ackerman's play that centers on the isolated Groden family, Arlene (Joan Allen), Charley (Sam Elliott), and their precocious daughter Bo (Valentina de Angelis) who live in a state of depressed civilization, an abode that is under a spell of an involuted economy where money is but an afterthought and nature the true protagonist. The Groden family has no phone, no running water, no tv, and no neighbors aside from coyotes and bears, both of which end up dead in a ritual of nature that will have you transcend the usual materialist self-serving appropriation of the symbiotic aggregates of life. Survival is more of an internal issue for the family rather than an economic one. Civilization seems to have been dismissed in favor of a love for their landscape and the appeal of a spiritual dynamism that has yet to be "put on the map" by the commercial prints of the "world". One day a hapless IRS agent, William Gibbs (Jim True-Frost), arrives at their house for an auditing, issued by the government, for the Grodens had not filed in seven years. A Massachusetts native who has transfer to Albaquerque and adopted a new profession, which has buried him deeper into the symptoms that distinguish a cog in the wheel of our civilized machine. The agent will become enchanted with the lifestyle, the landscape and the bewitching simplicity that nestles the Grodens everyday existence. He will end up staying with the family sucked by the aridity of cares that seem to barter with his ease of consciousness and habitual indifference. The New Mexico desert offers a contemplative universe to the IRS agent who, betaken by Arlene's beauty and the mystical flux of her spiritual transparency, becomes invested by an artistic bent that will alleviate the economic strains the Grodens are about to suffer due to the penalties they incur for neglect to file their taxes. The mesmerism and the intimacy of their simplicity is fraught with an evocative sterility that has beset the head of the household, Charlie, who suffers a deep-rooted depression that will haunt him for half a year. This is the most interesting aspect of the movie. Charlie will detain his energy and become insignificant to the family he had been an ingenious resourceful maverick to. He was the intelligence which had allowed for such a dissident lifestyle to work, while Arlene was the soul that fitted such a naked world. The arrival of the IRS agent signals a movement away from the grieving for the void that surrounds Charlie and a return to celebrate the beauty that this same void elicits. Bo is an insouciant, eloquent, witty, imaginative, young and dazzling virago that prowls about the story as years removed she piques her memory to disinter the events of the summer when her dad was suffering from such a depression. She narrates from different angles devolving into her return to her family's home at the conclusion of the movie, the setting of her reminiscing journey. The narrative does not offer a rush of action, but it does deliberate and exhilarate through the languid force of a natural mysteriousness, all aglow, illusive and compelling, abounding in its raw powers and contagion, we are absorbed by a dramatization where consciousness seems to be but the infusion, the curving point where the horizon swallows our vision as it dissipates: the vanishing point where humans become but the best interpretive agency that draws boundaries between life and death unaware of its transcendental beauty. Watch it and own it so that you may be delighted by repeated viewings. The layers of meanings are prodigious and profound. This movie succeeds in animating what great novels do in several hundred pages. It gives life to the dynamism of nature, lyrically startles and emotionally it reaches for a wasteland where desires are anchored in a barren immense. "
"Forty-One Feet Of The Ocean's Horizon" ~ The Curvature Of
Brian E. Erland | Brea, CA - USA | 10/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Charley (Sam Elliot) and Arlene (Joan Allen) live in a small home out in the middle-of-nowhere (New Mexico) with their twelve year old daughter Bo (Valentina De Angelis). Pennyless, they survive by trading what they grow in the garden for whatever essentials they need. It's a quiet, simple and relatively happy life for the Grodin's until Charley unexpectedly falls into a deep, prolonged depression. Now lost somewhere in his own inner world he has become almost immobile, uncommunicative and does little else but cry and drink water to replenish his bodily fluids.
Going bad to worse an IRS agent named William Gibbs (Jim True-Frost) appears on their doorstep to audit the Grodin's who haven't filed a tax return in six years. William is immediately bitten by a bee and has an allergic reaction, forcing him to remain with the Grodin's until he's feeling better. When he recovers he appears somehow different than he was upon arrival. Was it the bee sting, the Grodin's bohemian lifestyle or the enchanted New Mexico landscape that has brought about this profound change in their unexpected guest? William has discovered that "New Mexico is a very powerful place."
The film moves at a very slow, protracted pace in tune with the directorial objective of establishing the meaninglessness of time when living "off the map" and free of the constraints of jobs, schedules and responsibilities. If you're not prepared to give your full attention to the film from the beginning you are likely to quickly lose interest, but if you give yourself over to the experience and allow the New Mexico desert to envelope you a multi-faceted gem of a story awaits.
Marvelous performances by all, but the real star of this film is little Valentina De Angelis. She's definitely destined for greatness."
Flight From Eden
Glenn A. Buttkus | Sumner, WA USA | 04/27/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1994, Campbell Scott, full-time actor and sometimes writer/producer/director attended a play of OFF THE MAP in Massachusetts. It was written by Joan Ackerman. He loved the dramatic event, and immediately took out the option to film it. But per usual for these kinds of aspirations, he took 10 years to put the project together. In the interim, he directed three other films, BIG NIGHT (1996), HAMLET (2000) starring himself, and FINAL (2001).
He brought his film crew in 2002 to a remote corner of New Mexico, north of Taos, not far from the old D.H. Lawrence ranch. They constructed the "Grodin" house with lots of extra windows. Scott, and his crack cinematographer, Juan Ruiz Anchia, used the intense southwestern sunlight and the breathtaking high desert landscape like another member of the cast.
This is the story of a woman in her late 30's, Amy Brenneman, who reflects upon the summer she was 11 years old -the summer her father was depressed -the year a stranger came into her life and joined the family. Nothing was ever the same after that.
Valentina de Angelis played young Bo. In her film debut she shows great promise, rivaling other grand performances by young girls, like Mary Badham in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and Tatum O'Neal in PAPER MOON. She played a precocious intelligent child who although she dearly loved her father, she needed to grow up and escape the narrow, albeit natural, limits of the Eden he had created for his family. Sam Elliott played Charley Grodin. This is one of his finest roles. Playing against type, he reveals a rare vulnerability and emotional fragility that he has withheld from us in the past. He habitually stands in shadow and is often nearly mute -but we always know he is there and that he is in tremendous pain. Joan Allen, plays the wife and mother, Arlene, as a feisty sexy half-Hopi earthy long-haired hippie -who adores her eccentric husband and her fussing child, and thrives in the lifestyle that Charley has created out of inventiveness and a lot of useful items from the County Dump. She is struggling with the role of matriarch since her spouse is shut down with his crippling emotional issues. Jim True-Frost excels in the pivotal role of William Gibbs, the IRS pariah who wandered in lost off the desert -becomes first mesmerized by Arlene and then is stung by Grodin honey bees and falls into a near coma and fever. Emerging from his vision quest, he has an epiphany -quits the IRS, continues to live with the Grodins, and becomes an artist. J.K.Simmons does a nice turn as well as the loyal, although dim best friend, George.
This is a slow moving yet sparkling film that merits a good look. It is an important tale of love and loss, and it makes us reassess the quality of our own lives.
Very Realistic Depiction
Artist & Author | Near Mt. Baker, WA | 05/06/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As I write this, my oldest daughter now lives in the wealthiest suburb in Canada. However, when she was nine-ten years old, about the same age as 'Bo' in this movie, we moved to a small ranch in the California Sierras. It was raw land so we lived in a tent for some months, then got a tiny trailer for winter. We had no electricity, no plumbing, and the nearest phone was about 200 yards away in a little shed. While others were watching 'Little House on the Prairie' on TV, my kids were living it!
This time is now fondly recalled by my daughters as the best time of their lives. They loved to have Mom read them stories by the light of a kerosene lamp. In the winter, they stood by the heater to warm up. They had to walk a mile just to catch the school bus to take them to school. It was a treat to watch TV when they could plug a tiny 12-volt B&W TV into our truck. My daughter could ride her pony seven miles up to the end of our road in safety.
Like 'Bo' in this movie, they were always busy, inventing new games and exploring the area. There was a pool in a nearby creek where they and the other kids in the area would go swimming. Watching 'Bo' in this movie, it seemed like I was watching our kids all over again. 'Bo's' life was very realistically depicted in this movie, almost like a documentary. I write this for any family that is thinking of leaving the hectic life of the city for the simple life. This movie gives a very realistic portrayal of what your children's life would be like if you moved 'off the map.'
This should be a PG movie; there is almost no questionable language, so I guess the fact that they showed that the family were naturists raised the rating. The mother is very, very discreetly shown naked out in the garden soaking up the warmth of the sun, and the father was also implied to be naked when the IRS agent came up. [If I'd made the movie, I'd also have had 'Bo' shown skinny-dipping to indicate that the whole family had healthy body acceptance.] Even this aspect is realistic. We had a hose rigged up over a tree branch for a shower, and one time my wife was taking a shower when a small airplane flew over - and then circled over her a few times! Our kids wore clothes more for protection from the sun in the summer than out of 'modesty.' Indeed, some of their friends became naturists as well when they went with us to the river to swim.
One aspect of this movie that is unlike so many movies is that the wife remained faithful to her husband, even though he could not be an equal partner, in spite of the fact that the IRS agent declared that he was in love with her.
There isn't any real story to the movie - it is more of a chronicle of daily life for the family over a period of time. The movie is slow-paced, which is like life in such a situation is in reality. We found it to be very enjoyable. 'Bo' gave a very realistic portrayal of a typical eleven-year-old girl living that life. This is a movie one could watch over and over just to vicariously slow down and enjoy the simple things of life more!
[Three stars for the 'story' with five stars for accurate, realism give the movie four stars for me.]"