Review: Particles of Truth

The film says absolutely nothing about the way we live our lives.

Particles of Truth
Photo: Dada Films

Pop quiz. So you’ve just finished “giving it to” your dried-up Christian girlfriend and you hear someone coming into the living room area while she’s making you breakfast. Do you (a) stay in the bedroom, (b) put on some clothes before saying hello, or (c) stand uncomfortably at the bedroom door wearing zebra-print briefs?

You get a sense throughout Particles of Truth that director Jennifer Elster has never met a living, breathing human being in her entire life, or at the very least has yet to figure out how real people talk and act in front of each other. (Indeed, if there were a cat anywhere in this film, it’d probably bark at its owner.) A meandering exercise in woe-is-me-dom, this is the kind of film most people get out of their system sometime between their second and third years of film school, unless of course you’re like the privileged Morrison Wiley (Gale Harold) and you’ve had the misfortunate of having to live in your car at some point in your life, in which case you subject the entire world to your neurotic, self-pitying aspirations of actualization.

From the lily-white Lilli Black (Elster) to Morrison, everyone here is trying to “figure things out,” a journey that everyone—and everything, from books to subway walls—is only too happy to publicize. Morrison is too scared to walk anywhere near an MTA stop, ostensibly because he’s afraid of germs, but maybe because he’s trying to avoid the same graffiti that accosts and conveniently advertises Lilli’s own disconnect from the world: She walks up the stairs in a depressed stupor and the print above her head reads “Welcome To Hell.”

As pretentiously titled as Jewel’s A Night Without Armor, Particles of Truth evokes one woman’s life to a series of strident, depressing embarrassments, a me-me-me spectacle of unexamined grief that allows Elster to condescend to everyone—from men to Christians—but herself. The film says absolutely nothing about the way we live our lives, but how sweet that Elster’s daddy’s girl allows herself a little happiness in the end.

Score: 
 Cast: Jennifer Elster, Gale Harold, Susan Floyd, Larry Pine, Leslie Lyles, Mark Margolis, Richard Wilkinson, Elizabeth Van Meter, Alan Samulski, Michael Laurence, Victoria Rosen  Director: Jennifer Elster  Screenwriter: Jennifer Elster  Distributor: Dada Films  Running Time: 104 min  Rating: R  Year: 2003  Buy: Video

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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