Bo (Valentina de Angelis) is eleven years old and lives in a remote desert area of New Mexico with her mother (Joan Allen), a free spirit who tends to the garden in the nude, and her father (Sam Elliott), who is losing a battle with his inner demons. One day they receive a visit from an IRS agent (Jim True-Frost) who is there to audit the family even though they make a very modest income. Realizing the simple yet profound way that Bo and her family are living, the IRS agent abandons his work tolive with the family and surrender to the mystique of the desert landscape. Eventually he becomes the catalyst for major changes and discoveries by every member of the family. OFF THE MAP is a story of self-discovery that reveals unexpected moments of grace and the unpredictable enduring nature of love.
Off the Map
avoids conventional drama (hardly any event leads to an outcome you could expect) but the lean, sharp dialogue and superb performances make this movie a rich, human comedy. A young girl named Bo, living in the New Mexico desert, rebels against her bohemian parents by reading Forbes magazine and applying for credit cards. Her father Charley (Sam Elliott, Tombstone
) has sunk deep into a paralyzing depression; her resilient, industrious mother Arlene (Joan Allen, The Upside of Anger
) alternates between gently supporting Charley and railing against his zombie-like state. Into this off-balance family comes a tax auditor (Jim True-Frost, Singles
), who--after being stung by a bee and lapsing into a sudden fever--becomes an accidental catalyst for change. In her movie debut as Bo, Valentina de Angelis gives a wonderful performance, head and shoulders above most actors her age. Campbell Scott's direction, as with his first film Big Night
, is warm but not sappy; he has a gift for letting a story wander without it ever getting lost. The New Mexico landscape glows in the sun and helps give Off the Map
a quiet but mysterious vision of life. --Bret Fetzer