It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Sarah Sparks is your friendly local technology guru. She can debug your computer, teach you how your cell phone works and repair your toaster. She seems compelled to disassemble every device she comes across, and when she uses a drugstore pregnancy test, she’s fascinated by the typeface used on the product.
The part she can’t deal with is her pregnancy. She has no interest in babies and no desire to become a mother. The baby growing within her is like a computer bug that has invaded her hard drive. Her boyfriend Leon (Andre Holland) is thrilled. So is her father Henry (Richard Hoag). So is her sister Emily (Sarah Rafferty), who throws her a shower in L.A. Also Leon’s sister Towie (Susan Kelechi Watson), who joins her in Las Vegas for a few days to offer massages and pick up the vibes of her chi.
“Small, Beautifully Moving Parts,” written and directed by Annie Howell and Lisa Robinson, is effortlessly engaging in introducing us to these people. That’s possibly because Anna Margaret Hollyman, who plays Sarah, has a lovable screen presence. In this early leading role of a brief career, she has the sort of charm we felt from the first films of Sandra Bullock or Greta Gerwig. She deals with a lot of emotions in the film’s compact running time, and always feels natural and spontaneous.
After learning she’s pregnant, she becomes obsessed with motherhood, and her own mother, who disappeared from her life years ago. She learns vaguely that her mom is living “off the map” somewhere in the Nevada desert. Leon encourages Sarah to contact her, but her father and sister advise against it. Her father confesses he’s baffled by the behavior of his former wife.