The needlessly opaque intro to Bart Freundlich’s World Traveler takes doe-eyed architect Cal (Crudup) out of pre-9/11 New York and onto a cross-country road trip of the Homeric kind. Seemingly in pre-mid-life crisis mood, he inexplicably takes to the road, befriending and fending off an ex-alcoholic, a high school acquaintance, a hitchhiker, a crazy woman and his own runaway daddy. A selfish Cal seems to leave home without reason (or a goodbye for his wife and son) only to succumb to Freundlich’s guilt-by-dream visual pretenses. World Traveler is set up as a kind of paradigm of consciousness ethereally obsessed with Cal’s physical beauty. Perhaps Crudup’s outstanding, reserved performance is to blame but the character is unaware of his inner ego despite everyone else’s fascination with his killer looks. Kids mistake him for a movie star while an African-American construction worker seems less happy to have found a friend than he is to have found a pretty white other he’d like to become. The film, though, becomes downright exhilarating once Julianne Moore’s lunatic Dulcie distorts Cal’s worldview. However pointless Cal’s journey may seem, Dulcie hysterically and disturbingly reminds the sheepish everyman of his everyday responsibilities. A final encounter with his long lost father is just as earnest even if the purpose of Cal’s ego trip is seemingly predicated on the notion that pretty boys have feelings too.
- 103 min
- Bart Freundlich
- Bart Freundlich
- Billy Crudup, Julianne Moore, Karen Allen, Cleavant Derricks, Mary McCormack, Liane Balaban, James LeGros, David Keith
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