3 Backyards

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3 Backyards

A businessman (Koteas) wanders through an unfamiliar part of town after his flight is postponed, reluctant to go home and face his marital woes. A little girl (Resheff) borrows and loses a bracelet intended to be a birthday present for her mother. A housewife (Falco) gives her actress neighbor (Davidtz) a ride to the ferry but is rebuffed when she invites the obviously distraught celebrity to confide in her.

Never mind the actual backyard foliage shown in dreamy, dewey close-ups; it's the private, unguarded spaces among a trio of unrelated characters in a Long Island town that take center stage in Eric Mendelsohn's ensemble drama. The writer-director's follow-up to Judy Berlin (2000) tries to show how small breaks from suburban routines end up causing seismic changes in lives otherwise unexamined, juxtaposing brief encounters and semi-epiphanies with a delicacy that's alternately impressive and irritating; calling these back-and-forth koans stories may be too forceful. So what's up with the gratuitously showy visual style and aggressive, flute-heavy score that runs rampant over the modest narrative developments? Only Falco gets beyond being merely a symbol for suburban angst, thanks to her fiercely open, not terribly sympathetic turn as a woman taking liberties under the illusion of offering comfort.

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By: Alison Willmore

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