(Written by Allison Brown)
Roving Woman has so much potential but squanders it in the execution. The film follows recently single Sara (Lena Góra) as she exits her glamorous life in Los Angeles, dressed to the nines in an evening gown and heels, and descends into homelessness. My biggest gripe with the narrative lies in the character’s choices; it seems as if she suffers from mental illness.
If one were just broken up with and kicked out of their home of six years, would their first instinct really be to scout a dumpster for clothes, bathe in public waters fully clothed, flash one’s chest to teenage boys for $25, or steal a car? I would assume no. Clearly this character has a poor relationship with her mother, but there surely must be someone else she could have called. Any reasonable human being wouldn’t be caught outside their home without a phone that had access to a credit card or bank account, and even if that were not the case, I highly doubt Sara lacks friends, neighbors, or even employers that she could ask for help from a public phone. I was fully incensed for a lot of the runtime, and Sara’s pathological lying just exacerbated any irritation.
In between these strange behaviors, not much happens at all. One scene spends several minutes inexplicably focused on a static dumpster well after Sara has driven away. I expected Roving Woman to focus on Sara’s ability to overcome a particularly difficult breakup through a long solo road trip, but it is not empowering in this way.
A quote stuck with me, although noted sarcastically, which best captures the message of the film: “A man cannot be completely fulfilled just being with a woman, but a woman can be completely fulfilled just being with a man.” It is evident that Sara’s entire existence was defined by her ex-boyfriend, Ted, and she had nothing else to show for her life if his absence led her into such a downward spiral.
Floyd (Bear Badeaux) and Crissie (Crystal Rivers), a couple she meets in a trailer on their honeymoon, are endearing; I wish their segment was not so short. I also enjoyed the mystery of uncovering the owner of the stolen car, as well as his mysterious collection of songs, but this is such a small part of the plot. Ultimately, Roving Woman is a tragically confusing drama that may come off as mildly offensive for women.
Roving Woman wanders aimlessly when it premieres at Tribeca Film Festival on Monday, June 13.