SXSW FILM 2016
By Don Simpson | March 16, 2016
Directors: Annie J. Howell, Lisa Robinson
Writers: Annie J. Howell, Lisa Robinson
Starring: Betsy Brandt, Zev Haworth, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Chris Beetem, Sakina Jaffrey
Claire (Betsy Brandt) enjoys an upper middle class sense of security. She and her husband, Paul (Chris Beetem), both teach at the local university; their son, Connor (Zev Haworth), is a well-adjusted and intelligent kid. But when Paul does not return from a primitive camping excursion, Claire’s seemingly perfect life is rattled to its core.
As Claire hopelessly searches for Paul, she unearths secrets about his life and personality that she was never privy too. Nothing bad, per se, Claire discovers that Paul had an artistic side that she never knew about. Paul had a creative partnership with Allison (Anna Margaret Hollyman) and her art class, initially serving as a scientific adviser but eventually becoming a collaborator. As if the emotional struggle with Paul’s disappearance is not enough, Claire is faced with the fact that she did not really know Paul as well as she had believed. Claire settled into a comfortable routine — and was naively content with her life — while Paul was showing signs of discontent that she never picked up on.
Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson’s Claire in Motion is not so much about dealing with loss as it is about conflicting personality types. A profound and engrossing character study riddled with the subtle undertones of a psychological thriller, Claire in Motion astutely compares Claire with Allison, using Allison as a stand in for Paul — meaning that we can only assume that Claire probably had some of the same relationship issues with Paul (despite her denial) as she does with Allison. Claire’s extremely rational mind just cannot seem to wrap itself around freewheeling creative types. At its core, Claire in Motion seems to be about how Claire’s personality does not sync with anyone around her because she is far too controlling and narrow-minded in her world view. In Claire’s mind, she is always right (such as in her steadfast search for Paul, despite everyone else seeing the futility of it). She may fear being alone, but Claire’s stubbornly uncompromising personality is like nails on chalkboard to most people.