Review: A futile search for effective storyline and pacing in ‘Archaeology of a Woman’

When Sharon Greytak’s turgid melodrama “Archaeology of a Woman” opens, former small-town newspaper columnist Margaret (Sally Kirkland) realizes she can no longer hide the effects of Alzheimer’s, which are taking an increasing toll on her and her daughter Kate (Victoria Clark), a chef.

As her dementia deepens, Margaret shifts from passive bitterness to aggressive insults — and scheming to cover up a crime she committed 30 years earlier as part of an extramarital affair.

Kirkland manages to rise above the soap opera script with its improbable twists, stilted dialogue and internal contradictions to give a believable and often-sympathetic performance. Clark and the rest of the supporting cast wander aimlessly through thickets of too-convenient coincidences and unlikely behaviors that involve spy cameras, trysts in commuter train restrooms and pointless road trips.

The patience of the audience — and the characters — is further tried by the leaden pacing, which makes the film feel like it was shot in slow motion.


“Archaeology of a Woman”

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes.

Playing: At Laemmle’s Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.