|By Mira Harber
boy and his mom are perpetually on the road and on the run at night. Blurred
vistas and neon lights whiz by -- this is the luminous motion of director
Bette Gordon's film Luminous Motion. It is based on the novel “History
of Luminous Motion” by Scott Bradley.
film has a disturbing, hallucinatory quality to it. It is the story
of a boy and his mother -- his obsessions, memories and truths. As an adult,
it's difficult for the boy of the story to remember what actually happened
-- what was true, what was illusion? There are only two things that he
is sure of; 1) his mom was beyond judging and 2) the only thing that
mattered was being with his mom and being in motion.
Kara Unger isn't afraid to challenge our ideas of “mother.”
She's an extremely sexual woman (not something people like to think about
their own mother) who sleeps with and then robs, a steady stream of lovers.
In addition to being a thief and a liar, she doesn't provide her son with
a steady, secure home. But, what she does provide is special -- an all-encompassing
love, “a love with every cell in her body'” as her son sees it. She discusses
scientific theories with her son as he reads the dictionary or science
textbooks in the back seat of the car and provides him with an intellectual
stimulation that few children get at home.
The 10-year-old son, Phillip,
is played by Eric Lloyd. His confusion, hope and despair are all subtly
shown to the audience. He is completely convincing in the role.
begin to run amuck when there is a car crash. Pedro, a super-nice Anglo
guy, comes to their rescue. Problem is Phillip, is only happy when he is
on the road, and only with his mom. Tragedy ensues.
Throughout the film, we
see Phillip answering the phone and talking to (could it be?) his dad.
Is this really happening, or is he imagining it? Is that really his father
in the flesh that we see him speaking to? What happens to his mother? All
of these questions and more are raised and answered by the film's
I particularly liked the dreamy quality of this film. I liked not
being hit on the head by a film. I liked having troubling questions throughout
the film and sometimes I even like to think about what I'm watching.
Luminous Motion is disturbing
and compelling and shows a side to a mother-son relationship that you will
not have seen before. It keeps you guessing until the end.
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