Prayer Focus
Movie Review

A Slipping-Down Life

MPAA Rating: R for language including sexual references

Reviewed by: Chris Monroe

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1 hr. 51 min.
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USA Release:
Featuring: Lili Taylor, Guy Pearce, Tom Bower, Bruno Kirby, Irma P. Hall
Director: Toni Kalem
Producer: Richard Raddon
Distributor: Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
Copyright, Lions Gate Films
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“You think you’re invisible. But I see you.”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Based on the novel by Anne Tyler, A SLIPPING DOWN LIFE is the story of the unusual courtship of an awkward young woman and a charismatic singer/ songwriter, and the profound effect that their unlikely relationship has on each other’s lives.”

“You must be born again. Are you?” reads the small town billboard which visually bookends the film “A Slipping Down Life,” providing the theme for the story and the challenge for our main character. The rebirth that occurs isn’t directly representative of Jesus’ words in John 3:3, but the reference is used positively, depicting a transformation that is rising up, rather than slipping down.

Forlorn Evie Decker (Lili Taylor) lives alone with her dad (Tom Bower) and works at an amusement park in a small North Carolinian town, dressing up everyday in a rabbit costume and being mistreated by her mean-spirited boss (Bruno Kirby). Single, and with no prospects for a husband, Evie wonders why she exists and wonders if it mattered if she lived or died. After hearing “Drumstrings Casey” (Guy Pearce) on the radio, Evie becomes enamored with him, feeling that his music and message are speaking directly to her. Her obsession strains beyond that of a typical “fan.” She attends all of Casey’s concerts and then decides to carve his name into her forehead. Believing this is the best thing she has ever done, a new life and a relationship with Casey begin, eventually leading to the fulfillment of her dreams.

This story clearly belongs to Evie and sympathizes with a female’s ideologies about life and love. Evie and Casey’s relationship has a shocking start (carving his name in her forehead), but their relationship humbly develops from there. Although Evie is head over heels for Casey (more head than heels), they both wait until their wedding night to first make love. Evie does tell Casey that she is not a virgin, but it seems she is saying this to cover for how nervous she is acting. But for Evie and Casey, they have done well by keeping their romance pure. And the scene of the wedding night is simply conveyed with the first kiss and a cut-away to the next scene.

Coinciding with these positive values, there is another scene where Casey is home alone and Evie’s friend, Violet (Sara Rue), comes to their house drunk. With no way of getting home, she stays the night at the house with Casey. When Evie arrives home the next morning and sees the situation, she is upset, but is eased to discover later that nothing happened between Casey and Violet.

Violet, however, is a very obnoxious character, and throughout the film often makes lewd gestures or remarks. Also, there is a minor amount of foul language throughout the movie, including taking the Lord’s name in vain on a couple occasions. And some of the conversations with peripheral characters involve sexual references or ideas.

Taylor’s performance is exceptionally honest and endearing. She has no difficulty carrying the film and allowing us to sympathize with her character. Pearce and the others do well with what they’ve been given, but since Evie is the obvious focus, their parts don’t seem as crucial.

“A Slipping Down Life” comes across as a quirky, independent film, but at times feels as if it is this way for the sake of being quirky and independent. Some of the shots (such as the cam attached to the vacuum cleaner) seem unique, but they tend to stand out as a trick and don’t feel incorporated very well into the storytelling. Some of the drama and humor fall flat at times, too, but it is able to stay afloat because of the interesting character of Evie, played delightfully by Taylor.

Keeping with the “born again” analogy, Casey’s character can be compared to a kind of Christ figure, or savior, for Evie. Although she does most of the work in the relationship (even after they’re married), his “speak outs” during his performances are a clear message calling out to Evie. His way of pontificating about life is very spiritual in nature and raises questions for Evie about her life. Similarly, before a person comes to believe in Christ Jesus, His words and ideas can seem very mysterious to us, too. But at the same time, they can also grip us and draw us to Him until we come to know him personally and intimately.

Violence: None / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Minor

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Movie Critics
…Lili Taylor is perhaps the best American actress of her generation…
—Boxoffice Magazine
…What sinks this well-meaning movie… [is] simply that Lili Taylor and Guy Pearce… are simply far too old to be playing the story’s desperate dreamers…
—Glenn Whipp, L.A. Weekly News
…a little too aggressively quirky… ham-fisted story…
—E! Online