Molly’s Theory of Relativity: More Confounding than Cosmic

Best known as a 40-year veteran of the indie distribution scene, Jeff Lipsky has latterly carved out a sideline as one of New York’s most idiosyncratic indie filmmakers—a purveyor of confessional, sexually frank relationship dramas clearly indebted to his acknowledged masters: Mike Leigh and John Cassavetes. The best of the bunch remains 2006’s Flannel Pajamas, based on the breakup of his own marriage. As for Lipsky’s fifth and latest feature, it’s an unclassifiable head-scratcher—a magical-realist mélange of ideas about the state of the economy, the state of the American family, and the state of the universe. The title character is a newly unemployed astrophysicist (Sophia Takal) on the eve of a life-changing move from New York to Norway, boxing up her cramped apartment while her husband (Lawrence Michael Levine) unleashes years of pent-up invective against his no-account father (Reed Birney), and a steady stream of Halloween dinner guests arrive at the door. They include a 9-year-old in an Albert Einstein costume, a possibly imaginary neighbor boy, and the ghosts of various dead relatives. Bon appetit! Lipsky is clearly reaching for something grand and cosmic here, but the results are mostly just confounding.

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