Niagra, Niagra

Photo Courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival

Niagara, Niagara begins quietly in a drugstore in Poughkeepsie, where Marcie, the film's disarming heroine, likes to shoplift. She literally crashes into Seth, a quiet outsider, also on a shoplifting spree. Marcie invites Seth to accompany her to Canada to find a black hairstyling head. They set off in Seth's beat-up station wagon, destined for a toy store in Toronto. While on the road, Marcie confides to Seth that she has Tourette's syndrome, necessitating a series of detours to liquor stories and pharmacies along the roads of upstate New York. But it is the emotional territory the film travels that makes it so compelling.

Without being heavy handed or polemic, Niagara, Niagara gently explores how Marcie's neurological disorder impacts their journey. Repeatedly, the failure of the people they deal with to understand Marcie's condition keeps them in exile. But the private world of the two lovers offers an antidote to this climate, one where Marcie's condition has no bearing. As Seth tells Marcie in an ironic yet poignant moment, "I haven't noticed anything at all."

Drawing on many familiar themes--love, the road, and life on the margins of the law--director Bob Gosse and screenwriter Matthew Weiss have created a complex film that explores how ill equipped society is to handle "difference." Gosse's economic direction relies on the subtlest physical gestures and simplest emblems. The emotions resonate in landscapes--a sterile shopping mall, upstate farmlands, the rushing grandeur of Niagara Falls, haunting reminders of the universal need to connect.

- Lisanne Skyler

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