A Slipping-Down Life


Bottom 40% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

1999 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Dramatic Competition


Lili Taylor, Guy Pearce, Tom Bower, Druno Kirby, Irma P. Hall, Veronica Cartwright

Non-Cast Credits

Toni Kalem, Richard Raddon, Derinda B. Dallas, Robin J. Lieberman, Michael Barrow, Hughes Winborne, Russ Smith


Adapted from the Ann Tyler novel, A Slipping-Down Life is a portrait of a very different kind of heroine. Infused generously with poignancy and humor, it tells the tale of a woman lost in her own isolation as she embarks on a journey to self-awareness.

Drumstring Casey is a musician who rants his own brand of rock poetry. Sexy and brooding, he is every adolescent girl's dream. However, Evie Decker is not a teenager but a grown woman, sensible, responsible, working at Circus-land amusement park on the edge of her small southern town. Late one night she hears Drum on the radio and is drawn to him like a moth to a flame. She and her best friend track him down to a club where his set is interrupted by a blood-curdling scream from the ladies room. Evie has carved CASEY into her forehead. When the event makes the local papers, the two are brought together. As if fate has played its hand, these two outsiders must now deal with the cards dealt them.

Writer/director Toni Kalem makes an exceptional directorial debut, constructing a wonderful lyrical style whose direction, performances, and cinematography all unite in a distinctly dreamy sense of place and purpose. As Evie, Lili Taylor gives a magical, sensitive portrayal of a quiet girl who makes a subtle metamorphosis. Guy Pearce is wonderfully idiosyncratic as Drum, full of mystery and surprises. The depth of the characters may drive the novel, but it is the deep performances that make this film a delight.


John Cooper (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.