• Publication date: July 29, 2010

Leaving Normal Leaving Normal

Moviegoers who enjoyed pictures such as Boys on the Side and Thelma and ...

Moviegoers who enjoyed pictures such as Boys on the Side and Thelma and Louise will no doubt fall in love with Leaving Normal, another entry in the female road trip genre. Unlike Thelma and Louise though, the film ends on a seemingly upbeat note, providing inspiration to those who view it. Marianne is a battered wife fleeing from an abusive marriage. A recent fight with her husband, which left the housewife shaken on the kitchen floor, prompted her to pack up and leave. At first Marianne’s destination is undetermined, at least until she connects with fellow traveler Darly (Christine Lahti), a cocktail waitress and former stripper known to fans as Pillow Talk. As one might expect in this type of film, the girls are polar opposites in personality. Darly is a hardened, streetwise lady with zero taste in fashion, who dons leopard pants and tight leather shamelessly. In contrast, Marianne is emotionally weak, devoid of any marketable job skills, and childlike in nature. Both women, due to their respective experiences, distrust men and struggle to enter meaningful relationships with them. The two ladies cross paths at a bus stop, located in the dreary rural town of Normal, Wyoming. Darly stumbles upon Marianne as tears pour down the young girl’s face. On the bus ride to Normal, Tilly’s character spills her heart out to nearly every passenger, though none are particularly sympathetic. At the bus stop Marianne continues sobbing, but is eventually consoled by Darly, who is heading for Alaska. Instantly the girls bond; Marianne discovers that her new companion will claim an inherited home in the snowy state, and goes along for the ride. As they travel anecdotes are swapped, prompting each character to reexamine their direction in life. Along the way antics also ensue, specifically when a would-be john offers Darly $5000 for sex, and during their encounter with 66 (Patrika Darbo), a portly waitress with a kind heart. Once in Alaska Darly discovers that her future home needs plenty of renovation before it is inhabitable, while Marianne lands her first job at a local hardware store. Emotional wounds begin to heal, and Darly musters up the courage to find the daughter she abandoned 18 years ago at a local hospital. Leaving Normal does not conclude in a finite manner, a quality that separates it from similar pictures; potential viewers should not expect a rehash of the same tale, but a new, brighter look that just happens to drive the same vehicle. The soundtrack features tracks by classic rocker Van Morrison and actor/musician Chris Isaak.