Getting up to speed with the forceful females behind 'Personal Velocity.'

One sunny October afternoon on a Malibu beach, the stars of Personal Velocity — Parker Posey, Kyra Sedgwick, and Fairuza Balk — are arguing about who among them was most qualified to play the role of town slut Delia. ”I think my ass would have been better,” jokes Posey, 34.

”My ass is a little small for Delia,” Sedgwick, 37, replies with a sly smile.

Despite her seemingly inadequate posterior, Sedgwick won the part in writer-director Rebecca Miller’s drama (which United Artists will release on Nov. 22), a trilogy of stories about women struggling to change their lives. For Miller — the daughter of playwright Arthur Miller and wife of actor Daniel Day-Lewis — the movie itself was a singular struggle. Adapting her 2001 book of short stories, the 40-year-old mother of two shot quickly on a digital-video shoestring, yet managed to win both the 2002 Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for drama and the award for excellence in cinematography.

In the movie’s first segment, Sedgwick (Something to Talk About) plays Delia, a woman with an abusive husband who takes off with her children one night after a bad beating. The second segment features Posey (Best in Show) as ambitious book editor Greta, who agonizes over whether to leave her kind but unsuccessful husband. In the third, 28-year-old Balk (The Waterboy) plays Paula, a pregnant runaway who’s traumatized after witnessing a hit-and-run driver kill a man.

POSEY In this movie, there are three different women all going through changes. I don’t know where I’ve seen that before other than in European movies. The film has no problem showing women who are passionate, and [it] doesn’t judge.

SEDGWICK I would definitely agree with that. You see my character use her sexuality as power.

MILLER The movie probably has a different expression of sexuality than most. I didn’t try to conform to any idea of what’s romantic or what’s sexy. In Delia’s case, I was interested in the whole idea of the slut personality. Everyone always thinks these women are used by men, but what about the woman who’s also using men and gets pleasure from it? The idea that women only want love and to be faithful is a fiction that’s handy for men.

BALK The movie is about real women. God forbid [some-one] makes a movie with three real women in it.

SEDGWICK I was so happy to get the part. A lot of directors couldn’t see me in anything but something like Phenomenon.

MILLER I thought Kyra was softer than Delia until our casting director explained that Kyra actually has some real toughness and directness in her personality. When I met her, she was dead-on.

POSEY Rebecca thought I was too pretty to play Greta and then she met me and realized I was just fine. [Laughs]

MILLER I did worry originally that she’s so pretty and Greta was meant to be less attractive than her husband. As she played it, though, her physicality is secondary to her attitude.

Personal Velocity
  • Movie
  • 87 minutes