DVD RELEASE: December 23rd 2008
Reviewer: Deborah Ground Buckner
Writer and director Nicole Quinn tells a haunting Southern story in Racing Daylight. The film is three short films together, each presented from a different viewpoint. When they are viewed in their entirety, they become pieces of an intricate puzzle uncovering a story of lost love and attempts to regain it in another lifetime.
In Sadie, Sadie Stokes (Melissa Leo) has returned to Cedar County to care for her Grandma (Leclanche Durand) nearing the end of life. “There have always been Stokes' in Cedar County,” but Sadie and Grandma are the end of the line. Sadie has a crush on Henry (Academy Award-nominated David Strathairn), her grandmother's handyman, but she can't get a word out in his presence. One night, Sadie sees a face in her mirror, a man who calls “Anna!” then disappears. Sadie learns the gossip of her ancestor, Anna, who left her husband, Edmund, and their son to run away with Edmund's cousin, Harry. Anna begins to take possession of Sadie, bringing out a new side who shops for fashionable clothing and becomes the aggressor in her relationship with Henry.
The second film of the trilogy is Edmund. Set in Civil War time, the costumes and settings recreate the period, nicely aided by haunting fiddle music. Edmund's story of life without Anna is told, as he lives with his mother and young son. Just as Sadie, in the present time, found herself haunted by spirits of the past, Edmund, in the past, is haunted by Sadie's return to the present time, seeing glimpses of Anna in her movements. The concept that different times exist simultaneously and face these intersections is enthralling.
The third film, Henry, returns to present day and gives Henry an opportunity to relate his feelings for Sadie and his observations of her behavior as Anna casts her spells. David Strathaim's portrayal is wonderful, bringing a gentle, but intelligent folksiness to Henry whose quiet life of labor and memorizing Civil War facts is turned upside.
Without announcing from the beginning it is a mystery, the film becomes one, gradually fitting together the clues and culminating in a moment of resolution and redemption. It is a moving experience, a mix of pathos and humor, just as life has always been through the ages.