Adrift in Manhattan

Fans of Paul Thomas Anderson or Atom Egoyan may want to take note of Alfredo De Villa. Like Anderson and Egoyan, the Mexican-born director is putting his own distinct stamp on the American drama genre, focusing on strained familial relationships, determined quests for identity, and emotional isolation in settings bustling with people. De Villa’s latest, Adrift in Manhattan, screening today at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is his first film not to focus on the generational conflicts of Latin American immigrants (key plot points in 2002’s excellent Washington Heights and 2006’s decent Yellow), and to take on a Magnolia-ish intersection of storylines.

In Adrift in Manhattan, Simon (Victor Rasuk) is a socially inept teenager obsessed with photographing strangers from a distance. He notices Rose (Heather Graham), an eye doctor grieving her toddler’s death. One of her patients is Tommaso (Dominic Chianese), an artist whose optical problems have left him stranded in a job at a corporate mailroom, where he tries to spark a relationship with Isabel (Elizabeth Peña), an emotionally cut-off coworker.

With a promising résumé, a vision he doesn’t seem willing to compromise, and a budding reputation, De Villa is an auteur to watch. 7 p.m. 1001 Bissonnet. For tickets and information, call 713-639-7300 or visit $6 to $7.
Sat., Feb. 16, 7 p.m., 2008

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