FAY GRIM (Hal Hartley). 118 minutes. Opens Friday (May 25). Rating: NN Rating: NN
If you're making a spy thriller about a single mom caught up in global conspiracies and assassinations, you probably want to cast someone who can flex more than her acting muscles. Angelina Jolie, say, or perhaps Jennifer Garner.
Unless you're 90s art house darling Hal Hartley , whose bemused view of things Hollywood is as skewed as his off-kilter camera angles.
This is why we get former indie princess Parker Posey (I say former; she was in Superman Returns, remember) as the titular heroine out to discover if her dead janitor husband is in fact a spy and decidedly not dead.
Posey is a frail kook with a gift for farce that serves this genre parody well, while Jeff Goldblum has straitjacketed his usual twitchiness as a paranoid CIA agent who delivers his dialogue like a runaway freight train.
This sort-of sequel to Hartley's Henry Fool has all the ingredients of a big-budget action movie: nuclear secrets, double agents, double crosses, Islamic terrorists, gunfights and exotic locales. But in Hartley's hands they're reduced to their very marrow. A stairwell shootout plays as a handful of blurry still frames, for example.
Hartley also wrote Fay Grim , and while his strength is comedy (Posey's strategically placed vibrating cellphone provides one of the film's biggest amusements), the final third is played so straight that it could be an episode of Alias.