The search for a better gig

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By Kelly LeVan

4.5 kernelsCollege English majors could write endless theses about how the term “limbo” applies to director John Sayles’ 1999 independent film.The aptly titled “Limbo” centers on the story of a beaten-down singer, her sorrowful boyfriend and her miserable daughter, but the camera sneaks into the mired lives of other residents of their small Alaskan fishing town as well.There’s no money, no cannery, no fishing boat, no father. Everyone knows the same pain: that of exhausted longing, of endlessly weaning oneself off expired optimism.Nevertheless, the movie doesn’t suck the viewer into its morass. The filmmakers’ inventiveness, the actors’ incredibly sensitive portrayals and the omnipresent Alaska-ness of the film – the sense that pioneering must go on – bring faith and beauty into a demoralized cinematic world.Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio plays Donna De Angelo, who claims to have sung in 36 states and Puerto Rico. She’s old enough, by her own standards, to recognize that her lifestyle suits her. She’s tried other occupations. They make her feel like a failure, whereas singing in bars – even for inattentive crowds and very little money – brings her back to life. Offstage, she flattens like a slashed tire.Donna’s daughter Noelle (Vanessa Martinez), however, has no saving stage.

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