(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: With SEDONA, writer writer/director Tommy Stovall gives us a mystical comedy/drama and a whole lot of majestic geological photography of the area of Sedona, Arizona. The film tells two stories tangent at points until they intertwine and merge into one story. In one, a family goes hiking in the Sedona hills and a child wanders off and is lost. In the other, an advertising executive on her way to the most important meeting of her career finds herself waylaid in a day when everything that can go wrong does. Over the entire story is an atmosphere of fate and mysticism guiding the characters. If like me, you think that things like vortices and Chi are so much flap-doodle, then you have to suspend disbelief or you will miss much of the point of the film, namely that whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

Tammy is a high-priced advertising executive on her way to Phoenix for the kind of meeting made famous in MAD MEN. Tammy is played by Francis Fisher (who played Rose's mother in TITANIC), and who could have dialed back her performance a notch or two. She takes a wrong turn and finds herself in Sedona. That would have been bad enough. An airplane with engine trouble makes an emergency landing on the highway and rear-ends her car. For the rest of the day it is one darn (strange) thing after another happening and getting between her and her meeting. At the same time also in Sedona a family of four headed by control freak Scott (played by Seth Peterson) and his loosey-goosey partner Eddie (Matthew J. Williamson) are taking their two sons on a hiking trip into the towering rock hills over the town. Scott cannot put down his cell-phone and just spend quality time with the kids. Then Denny, the younger kid wanders off setting off a panicked search by the rest of his family. The two stories proceed in parallel.

Tammy is extremely skeptical of all the New Age beliefs that seem to have become like a second religion for people in the area. After fighting to get transportation to her meeting she finds she must make a temporary truce with the New Age thinking of most of the women. It is odd that Stovall chooses to make all the believers in the mysticism female. Even a Native American male who fits into the plot late in the film does not talk about mystical ideas. But most or all of the women seem to believe in vortices and other mystical phenomena. The only man who seems a little out of the ordinary is a very funny car mechanic played by the reliable Barry Corbin (of LONESOME DOVE).

Perhaps the real hero of this film is Rudy Harbon whose photography of the beautiful geology all around Sedona sets the tone for what is happening. One can almost accept that the place is somehow magical. Stovall knows how to use this scenery and his minor characters who are frequently peculiar. He makes Sedona seem almost as crazy and fun as Clint Eastwood makes the people of Savannah in MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL. But as the story progresses there is a rising tide of magical tone to what happens.

The two-plotline approach is not particularly new and original. The overall theme seems to be taken from Max Ehrmann's "Desiderata" and is just about as comforting. But while the universe is unfolding in the plot one can do a lot worse than look at the vistas of one of the most beautiful areas in the United States. I rate SEDONA a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:

					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2012 Mark R. Leeper