Off the Map
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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
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Top customer reviews
A man is rich when he has a good marriage, a loving child, owns his home, lives by his wits and skill. Money is optional. Though I have not seen any comment yet here, not only is he a genius for living "off the grid" without money but he has no jealousy, he is gracious, he is generous. He has no anger. He owns his actions and his words and chooses them wisely.
The young IRS agent was himself hungry...he had not been an agent for long. He realized after the bee sting that he had not come to New Mexico to collect back taxes from people that have no taxable income. As the tax man realized his true value as a man, so did the other characters. The rest is art.
Depression is a tricky business. Like a black hole, it sucks in not just the "patient," but everyone around him. He is begged to swallow pills when everyone in the small family is sick of the head of house withdrawing into himself. Hadn't he earned it? The right to be quiet for awhile? Was the depression coming from him? Was it imposed on him by outsiders, in their judgements of him as a "failure?" such as the comment by the deliveryman, "Are you all on mushrooms?" Or did he just need something to do? Like making oil paint? Like Rembrandt did...and in the process enabling a seeker to become an artist. Trusting the one that comes to you to complete you...without force, and when they leave by death or bus...trusting what remains is wisdom.
Hopi dates back to Anasazi peoples who built their homes into the cracks of high mountains. These people have been living on this land, without money, taxes, or governments since before Noah's Ark and the great flood. The film hints about the circle of life, the roundness of the horizon, the ever-changing nature of reality. Or perhaps it is no more than a great circle, a cycle of life.
I think it would be better on a big screen, and maybe there is some way to doctor it so that it looks 3d, but the point is to open the vision within...just as the stories read aloud of sails and sailing ships manifested one day in a real boat. They don't have to be perfect. If they were, there would be nothing left for us viewers to do after we watch the film.
However I will admit, while extremely well done, this movie is not for everyone. It's character driven, there are no explosions or especially gripping moments, and Sam Elliot isn't his classic cowboy self but someone who locks himself in the outhouse to cope with his depression. On the flip side, here is a chance you will be inspired to drop your life and move to the Middle of Nowhere, NM. But, if you can make your peace with all that, it's worth watching.
Also, I found the story line to be wonderful and real. The young girl actress was just great!!
Most recent customer reviews
Depression is a serious illness and this movie made many aware. All cast members were beyond excellent.