Film

Film

by

Through sunspots and Shazam!-like ’70s TV dust, Mary Kuryla’s 1999 debut follows shiner-eyed, hot-pants-clad single mom Penny (Jacqueline McKenzie), abusively dispatched to both retrieve her boyfriend’s severance paycheck and snuff his mangy dog. En route, Penny and her superhero-costumed young son detour into episodic jags. In this Gaitskillian world of drugs, fear, and dead-end ennui, a pre-Sopranos Aida Turturro plays tranquilized, low-rent Louise to Penny’s Thelma—her slurred Christian pablum garners Penny’s quip “I don’t have love left for God.” As for her own lies, including a gruesome tale of being born in a house fire, Penny reasons, “If I can think of it, it comes from someplace truthful.” Kuryla has her prole banter down, and moments like McKenzie’s desperate dance on her jalopy hood when Turturro locks her out move beyond literary sting into kinetic and sympathetic gutter picaresque.