In the 90s, Lili Taylor and Parker Posey were considered the indie queens of Hollywood. If a film was independent, chances were that one of these ladies was starring in it. Hollywood underwent a indie revolution during that decade, led by the meteoric rise of Miramax Pictures. A Slipping-Down Life is not a Miramax picture, but its illustrative of the decade’s cinema. This film stars Lili Taylor (Six Feet Under, Kicked in the Head, I Shot Andy Warhol) and Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential, Memento). Taylor is a young woman leading a quiet and purposeless life in a small North Carolina town when she meets and gets obsessed about Pearce, a prog-rock singer hoping his talents will get him the hell out of his dead-end town.

The problem I have with A Slipping-Down Life is that it suffers from what every indie film seemed to be afflicted with in the 90s. To be an independent film, it seemed like filmmakers and studios felt compelled to tell stories that were quirky for their own sake. The characters had to possess weird attributes and interests. The situations had to be unconventional, out of the ordinary, and almost random. It was believed that indie cinema had to tell stories that the major studios couldn’t or wouldn’t tell. At the time, this was a novel style that made for interesting and unique films with stories that were once relegated only to novels. However, this got old and the novelty wore off. I think had I seen this film back during its initial release, I may have liked it more, but watching it now makes it feel dated and contrite.

Taylor and Pearce both give decent performances. I can’t help watching Lili Taylor and NOT be reminded of her psycho performance in Six Feet Under. Her character in this film is a less crazy and obsessive character than the one she played in Six Feet Under. Taylor has a very unique look that conveys thoughtfulness and sadness. Here, she is a woman trying to figure out what to do with her life. When she meets Pearce’s rocker character, she becomes a changed woman who fantasizes and obsesses over him to the point where she even carves his name onto her forehead (a bit crazy?). Pearce continues playing difficult and diverse roles and is unfortunately not seen enough in movies these days. His rocker character is a brooding, quiet soul who actually struck me as being a bit of a selfish asshole. I thought his character, although well played for what Pearce was given, was your stereotypical brooding musician who speaks deep dime-store thoughts.

One of the troubling things about this film was the disconnect between the characters halfway through the movie. During the first half, Taylor pursues Pearce, who doesn’t give her the time of day. Then, in the second half of the film, Pearce abruptly does an about face and gives a shit about Taylor. So much so that he proposes to marry her. The film poorly transitions the character’s changes and, consequently, it felt abrupt and it took me out of the film. There were also scenes that hinted at the characters’ backgrounds and life that were not developed far enough. For example, there are scenes indicating that Pearce had a shitty childhood, but the film should have explored that further so the audience can empathize with the character. Finally, there is a scene towards the end of the film that is SO RANDOM and undeveloped that it completely throws you off and not in a good way. This is a classic example of how indie filmmakers would throw in quirky shit for the sake of being quirky and nothing else.

A Slipping-Down Life is not a great film by any means, but it has a few moments, especially during Act One. The filmmakers did not develop the story and characters well enough for you to like them. The scenes felt too disjointed and disrupted the pace of the film. I was unclear as to where the director was trying to go with this film and I think the filmmaker herself was unsure as well.

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