River of Grass

River of Grass ★★★½

In her childhood Cozy made up sins when she went to confession so she'd have something to say, as a mom at 32 she invents them so she has a reason to run away, to justify her desire to escape from the suburban swampland and be beholden to no one. "Limbo. That sounds nice." She pairs up with Lee, a man so flighty he can't even make a good thief, and they skirt around two Everglades counties trying to get gas money to leave by selling nicked jazz records and bungling convenience store robberies. They talk about their lives and nap and drink, usually all at the same time. Lee accepts the journey has to end—he can easily transition back to being a deadbeat, after all. Cozy can't, won't go back to domestic life. She sees how lifeless her father became when he transitioned from jazz drummer to cop to support his family, envies her absentee mother. She'll find a reason to drive away.

Kelly Reichardt, in her debut, observes the cadence of stillness. Staring at yourself in the mirror spitting blood after being hit for failing to rob a register before someone else could, lying in the backseat of a car as the streetlights cycle overhead, sinking into the tide in your shoes and suitpants as you realize you've lost the gun that gives you all your authority, wasting time in a parking lot by the beach by walking a wall like a balance beam and staring at the suffocatingly blue sky. Bonus points for the song that plays as Cozy finally does drive away, "Evergladed" by Sammy, a band doomed to die in the shadow of Pavement.

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