Spoiler alert: The plot cannot be told without a fundamental spoiler.
CAPSULE: CLAIRE IN MOTION is a story not really in motion. It might more accurately be labeled CLAIRE IN LIMBO. It is a study of a woman living with uncertainty after her husband disappears. One approach after another is tried to find Claire's husband and Claire slowly changes when met by repeated failures. If the viewer is expecting a mystery he will be disappointed. This is a story of a woman who has lost her husband and what her uncertainty does to her. Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson co-wrote and co-directed the film. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10
This film is getting some negative comment. That may be understandable because it is two different films tied together, one much better than the other. It is a mystery about a man's disappearance, and it is a character study of a wife who is in limbo after the husband mysteriously disappears. It describes what living with uncertainty in uncertainty does to her and her son. If the viewer thinks of this film as the mystery it will only be a frustrating experience.
Paul and Claire Hunger (Chris Beetem and Betsey Brandt) teach at a local college. One day, which is at first like any other day, Paul goes off and just never comes back. Claire does all the expected things when there is a disappearance. After a few hours she calls in the police. But days go by and the police are having no luck in tracking down Paul. Many possibilities are considered. Most are not resolved and all swell the list of uncertainties. Claire discovers details of her husband's life. Some may have been secrets or might have been purely innocent, and even some which cannot be established. Paul had been doing an art project with Allison (Anna Margaret Hollyman) an attractive co-ed that he never mentioned to Claire. Allison joins a large set of possible clues to Paul's vanishing. Claire gets more and more frustrated. She dreams about Paul and looks at old video recordings of him. As Claire says, "There is so much uncertainty and we are immersed in it." The viewer is also immersed and is not shown the way out.
The camera seems to also be mysterious about Paul. We never see his face. In the first scene in which we see him he is walking around his bedroom, but his head is always framed out of the picture. We see a shot of Paul hiking in the woods, but again we do not see his face, and instead the camera focuses on leaves. The camera is more anxious to capture where he is not than to show the viewer where he is. As another strange touch, we see pieces of art made by Allison and perhaps Paul, but they are either totally abstract or just do not look like anything recognizable.
If the viewer is lulled into expecting this will be a conventional mystery it might disappoint some. And seeing the film as a character study it is more repetitive disappointment than reward. Perhaps CLAIRE IN MOTION needed less Claire and more motion. I rate the film a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.
ABOUT THE SPOILER: There may be an unwritten rule that if a film is built around a mystery it should solve that mystery. Films in the past have alienated viewers by leaving mysteries unsolved. Peter Weir's PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK (1975) takes up famous mystery in Australian history reenacts it adding some of its own mysterious happenings, but then never explains them as if to say, "But we told you it was an unsolved mystery." That film was generally well-accepted but some viewers complained that they were left hanging. John Sayles' LIMBO (1999) leaves open the fate of its characters at the end and that angered some audiences also.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5432114/combined
What others are saying: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/claire_in_motion
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper