Rebecca Miller's Personal Velocity is comprised of three short films: Delia, Greta, and Paula. The characters span location, socio-economic background, and age but are psychologically threaded by the common experience of a crisis pertinent to each's feminine identity. The movie's interest in women may garner the misperception of it as a feminist polemic, but Miller's vision is more humanitarian than political. It's one of those movies that, even when unsuccessful, seems genuinely curious about human beings.
In exploring battered wife, Delia (Kyra Sedgewick) Miller uses flashbacks to show her deep-seated confusion with sex and power as a promiscuous teenager. Greta reiterrates such themes, but as opposed to Delia's battered wife syndrome, these now impenetrable psychological depths actually produce societally acceptable behavior. The more Greta (the deft Parker Posey) succumbs to her innate moral inscrutability, the greater success she earns in her profession as a book editor. The final short, Paula is much less clear in its themes, and you can see Miller exploring truly dangerous territory, feeling around for a lightswitch in the dark. It follows a young quasi-homeless goth woman (Fairuza Balk) whose quest for love and motherhood become manifested in unconditional love and care for a terribly abused hitchhiking boy. Though this short seems spiritually disconnected from the first two, I like its dark, emblematic emotions (ripe with abortion metaphors and images of child torture) and Balk's performance is appropriately painful.
Miller's larger point, I think, is to show a battle between these women's present goals and their histories which, whether or not they like it, dictate their decisions. I applaud Miller for exploring such quandaries and being able to convey them in artful, engrossing entertainment.