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OFF THE MAP

Actor Campbell Scottís talent for offbeat and edgy performances (Roger Dodger most notably) translates into a sadly precious directorial debut. Blame in part Joan Ackermannís twee script, which, based on her play, is all over the map in its tone, point of view, narrative line (flashbacks within flashbacks and then some), and characterizations. Which is a shame given the good performances, among them newcomer Valentina de Angelisís as Bo, an 11-year-old tomboy living on a desolate ranch in the New Mexico desert and burdened with a depressive dad (Sam Elliott crying in every frame ó not a pretty sight) and a faux literary voiceover narrative that sounds intended for the Oprah Book Club ("My mother was weeding naked in the garden . . . when William Gibbs cried out"). Adding to the whimsical ménage is Boís earth-mother mom, Arlene (Joan Allen showing remarkable patience), a passing IRS agent who stays on to become a world-famous painter, and a mystical coyote. Itís enough to make Roger Dodger squirm. (111 minutes)

BY PETER KEOUGH

Issue Date: March 25 - 31, 2005
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