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The plot of "Committed" is centered around the story of an intense young woman, played by Graham, whose husband leaves her in order to find himself. She then follows him cross-country and when she catches up with him, complications arise. Written by
'Patricia Velazquez' received an "introducing" credit (as Patricia Velasquez) even though this was her seventh feature film. See more »
When Joline enters Texas she bursts her tyre. Initially it is on the front left side of the car. Followed by a shot of it on the back left. This can be seen when the man who fixes her tyre is standing in the back of the car. See more »
I read somewhere, the reason most relationships break down is that each partner is waiting for the other to fix it. But if you want somebody to stand by you always, you have to be willing to do the same for them, even when they're acting like an idiot.
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Clearly An Acquired Taste, but For Me, This Film Works
I get the feeling that Lisa Krueger is easy to overlook. I personally found her first film, 1996's Manny and Lo, to be a wonderfully detailed character study and the performances were uniformly wonderful(with special credit to Mary Kay Place). The film played for a week or two in major urban centers and vanished. One or two critics really liked it, but many viewed it as slight. Krueger's second film, Committed, was released this year (2000) (after nearly two years of delays) and it similarly vanished. And once again critics dismissed the film as slight and pushed the film aside, at most praising Heather Graham's screen presence, but rarely her acting ability. And once again, for me, Committed is a solid success. I feel as if Krueger has a genuine voice and a personal visual style and these are traits that shouldn't be so easily ignored, simply because she works on a very restrained canvass.
The title has several meanings, but mostly it refers to Joline (Graham)'s refusal to let her husband Carl (Luke Wilson) flake out and leave her. She follows him from New York to El Paso and becomes one of the most appealing stalkers in recent cinematic history. Her respect for her marriage vows leads her to Mexican mysticism and self-discovery. And yep, the plot is just that simple and thus, just that easy to ignore.
Joline, of course, is the crying voice of a generation whose parents divorced at a rate nearing fifty percent. And for me, her personal revolution against broken promises and a legacy of deceit is fairly intelligent and powerful. Confident in the belief that people just don't have enough faith in each other, Joline inevitably has to discover that her beliefs aren't in synche with those of society at large. Several comments her have referred to her character as one-dimensional and I'm afraid that that's a simplistic reading of the film. Or perhaps even a misreading. If Joline were just an innocent, she wouldn't be interesting at all. It's the fact that she understands the world and refuses to play by the rules of the "normals" that makes her so interesting. Sociologically, she's a complete deviant.
Krueger sometimes falls into moments of cutesy dialogue and her direction of this film has a rather odd over-reliance on shots of clouds moving across the El Paso skyline. However, her mistakes are fairly rare and in this film, as in Manny and Lo, it's the performances that carry the day. Graham has never been better because she's never had a character as perfectly tailored to her as Joline. For the first time in her career, Graham seems comfortable playing an adult, even one in slightly arrested development. She carries the film perfectly. Luke Wilson and Casey Affleck (as Joline's brother) both have a number of fine moments, as do Alfonso Arau, as a Mexican Mystic and Mark Ruffalo and T-Bo, the slightly psychotic truck driver. As in Manny and Lo, the characters are part of their environments, well detailed totally organic creations. These characters may sometimes seem pointlessly quirky, but they make sense in their context. Even Goran Visnjic, as an artist turned on by Joline's devotion, fits in in some strange way, even though his character's foreigness is never discussed.
For me, this is a movie that gains depth looking back. Another commenter here spoke of the stereotypical Mexican portrayals. And again I'm tempted to call that a misreading. Joline is looking for self-justification. She knows that her commitment is out of control, but she's looking for any spiritual avenue that can help her make sense of herself. Arau's character understands that most people don't believe in him and he plays up his own faith when he sees a woman who respects him.
I guess I can understand how this movie could be viewed as underwhelming, I'd simply disagree. It's consistently funny, frequently hilarious, and all of the characters exude a warmth which is quite wonderful.
I'm giving this one a 7.5/10 and when I log in the vote here, that'll go up to an 8.
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