"I hurt everyone."
Map of the World
Review by Ross Anthony

You've no doubt heard that one must "go through hell to get to heaven." In "Map of the World" most of the going is through hell. As for the heaven part, the strength or (as the press kit says) the "life-affirming" feeling of living through the experience will have to suffice as a replacement for the traditional blissful association. A rough analogy would be Rocky in his first film -- he doesn't win, but he survives. However, unlike the underdog boxer, Sigourney Weaver, seldom gets a punch in edgewise. It's all blow after blow to her dignity, loved ones and "world" as she knows it.

The film opens to a real family ... something we don't see too often in a movie. Kids scream driving parents nuts. At the end of the day, a naked Weaver and Strathairn climb into the porcelain tub in a scattered bathroom. The richly wrinkled tenderness of that scene is as real as the ornery 6-year-old daughter shouting, "I hate you mom!"

But, don't let that daughter steal your attention, Weaver is left in charge of her best friend's children when one of the toddlers crawls off into the nearby pond and drowns. And that's just the first knuckle-sandwich. A discombobulated Weaver (a school nurse) encouraged by her normally passive husband attends a PTA conference only to undergo an impromptu interrogation in the hallway where she blurts this gem, "I'm trying to have a nervous breakdown and no one will let me do it in peace."

Since the child's death, Weaver can hardly put two words together; however when police show up at her door with handcuffs, she's miraculously able to read the warrant (an abuse charge) and give directions to her husband before being carted off. I believe the director was trying to indicate the odd relief she experienced for having been extracted from her current torment - still, her coherency inconsistency is rather abrupt. As is her best friend's (Julianne Moore) upbeat attitude swing a short vacation or so after her child's death.

Detained in prison awaiting trial, Weaver discovers an unlikely haven. The concept of an overworked parent finding solace in lock-up is an interesting one. I would have liked to have seen much more of Weaver's introspection, but instead we (as the characters around her) are stuck with the view from outside her head.

The husband, refusing to ask for his mother's assistance, leaves his kids with the "egg lady" (a woman that terrifies them). Doubting even his own wife with multiple abuse charges pending, one would expect the humility of asking mom for help would be an easy choice.

Unlike the Rocky flick, this one has no bell. Suddenly, the fight is over; no referee makes any call. By way of resolution, a three-minute monologue recaps her year of pain.

For the most part, the acting is strong, but the direction is inharmonious, some scenes weaker than others. Most of us can tolerate moderate amounts of hard hits and setbacks for our protagonists; however, the 90% worth mapped out in this film may overwhelm.

  • Map of the World. Copyright © 2000. Rated R.
  • Starring Sigourney Weaver, Julianne Moore, David Strathairn.
  • Directed by Scott Elliott.
  • Written by Peter Hedges and Polly Platt.
  • Produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall at Kennedy/Marshall.
  • A First Look presentation.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:03:09 PDT