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maryann johanson, free spinster

A Slipping-Down Life (review)

He’s a temperamental, moody musician who haunts dive bars and intones earnest, half spoken-word songs. She’s a shy, awkward mouse barely surviving her latest dead-end job serving hot dogs at a kiddie amusement park. Neither is likely to ever make a break from their depressing existence in the rural South. In a desperate, last-ditch effort to make her life mean something, she carves his name into her forehead with a piece of broken glass in the ladies’ room of a dive bar where he is performing — you know, because she feels too much, not because she’s touched in the head. In the way not of real life but of self-consciously literary love stories, this will make him fall in love with her. Writer/director Toni Kalem’s studious adaptation of Anne Tyler’s novel has been in distribution limbo for the past five years, long enough for Guy Pearce (Till Human Voices Wake Us), as rocker Drumstrings Casey, to become more of a draw than he might have been back in pre-Memento 1999, though Lili Taylor (The Haunting), as Evie Decker, had long since solidified her indie cred. They’re the best — nay, the only — reason to catch this flick… if you’re predisposed to their brand of moody, awkward, indie oddness. I like them both just fine — I do wish they’d do something else once in a while.


MPAA: rated R for language including sexual references

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