Movie comment: Off the Map (2003)  

Posted by Denis Haack in , , ,

This is a quiet film, a story that probes deeply into what it means to be broken human being in a broken world. Charley (played by Sam Elliott), husband and father, is clinically depressed. He and his family have moved off the map to a small place in rural New Mexico. There they live, by their wits and with what they can grow and scavenge, caring for one another with a love that is both admirable and redemptive. Charley’s wife, Arlene (played brilliantly by Joan Allen) takes quiet charge, while their daughter, Bo, (played by Amy Brenneman and Valentina de Angelis at different ages) grows up knowing that love is more important than riches. A long-time friend of Charley’s (J. K. Simmons) comes by regularly, and their life is uneventful until an IRS agent arrives to investigate why they haven’t been filing income tax forms.

This is a quirky, lovely story, a profound exploration of what it means to be in true community, even at cost. The stark landscape of New Mexico in the background quietly adds texture, beauty, and form to the plot. This is story of a place where simplicity is celebrated, where hospitality is practiced, and where people are cherished over things. And where there is a steep cost to love.

It is rather easy to imagine carving out such a life by moving into a lovely adobe house at the end of a dirt road far out, off the grid in some isolated place. More important is to reproduce such values and virtues where we live, in the busyness of a world that yearns for love but has lost track of where it can be found.

Please watch and discuss Off the Map. And then go off the map for God's glory.

This entry was posted at Tuesday, August 11, 2009 and is filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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