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By Don R. Lewis | March 11, 2005

As children, many of us are embarrassed by our parents – be it their geekiness, financial status or attitude. Lets face it, all of us wanted mom or dad to drop us off at LEAST a block away from school. However, as we grow up we learn to respect or at least understand what our parents are all about. In many ways, this is what Campbell Scott’s “Off the Map” touches upon.
Bo ( d’Angelis) is a young girl who lives with her slightly hippie mom and dad in an extremely rural area of New Mexico. The film takes places in the 1960s but the family has no electricity and uses an outhouse to take care of business. Bo is an extremely bright young girl and very well read, thus she yearns for a life outside of New Mexico. If there were any other people around, Bo would be embarrassed of her life and her parents.
What starts as a somewhat standard tale of youth wanting more from life turns magical as we are slowly drawn into the simplistic life shared by the family, but there’s another layer involved. Bo’s dad (Elliott) is severely depressed, so much so he just starts crying for no reason and wiles away the days drinking water to refuel the tear ducts. Sam Elliott is amazingly understated as her dad as he mopes around the house. However, everything changes when a man (True) arrives to audit the family…even though they only made $1500.00 that last year. The tax man, like the viewers of this film, is soon sucked into this magical world and a film of quiet beauty, striking comedy and touching truths unfolds.
This film is shot beautifully, the golden hour never looked so incredible. But it does get a little bit slow. There’s also a narrative provided by a grown up Bo (Brenneman) that fits, but the scenes of her as an adult aren’t needed until the end. However, any minor flaws “Off the Map” has are easily forgiven by great acting and beautifully shot landscapes. Campbell Scott does a great job of adapting a stage play (by screenwriter Joan Ackerman) to film as well.

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