Nat, an aspiring photographer, is heading for a bright future at the art school in Los Angeles and wants to find the real America on the way to new beginnings in the west; Richard, a rather careless air lover, is simply looking for a connection while struggling with indecision, past mistakes and dead ends. While traveling through the southwestern United States, crossing paths with a variety of strange characters, both passengers come to life through the possibilities of the open road.
Initial release: November 9, 2018 (USA)
Director: Hannah Fidell
Production company: Gamechanger Films
Music composed by: Keegan DeWitt.
Screenplay: Hannah Fidell, Carson D. Mell
CALGARY When all is said and done, there is absolutely nothing surprising or revealing about The Long Dumb Road. Play your indie friends comedy rhythms exactly as one would expect from start to finish. And yet, the genuine affability and absolute sympathy of its two main clues, and the incredibly charming dialogue in the script, more than make up for its sometimes unpleasant narrative shortcomings in general.
Nat (Tony Revolori) is finally ready to begin the next chapter of his life. Having lived safely in the comfort of the upper middle class of their parents’ wealth for years has had its equal share of ups and downs. Staying in her parents’ nest has made Nat a little bit protected and quite inexperienced with life in general. He finally decides to take the sometimes reliable purple minivan from his parents along with the few belongings he owns from his home in Texas, and plans to drive to Los Angeles to go to art school.
At the first service station on his road trip, his truck breaks almost immediately, so he has the help of former mechanic Richard (Jason Mantzoukas), who is about to be fired recently. Naturally, the two establish a friendship that will take them on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance. It is a journey that none of them will have been able to anticipate or predict in advance, even if the audience will certainly do so.
Revolori and Mantzoukas really are a pair of perfect odd couples, by virtue of constantly exchanging both sweet soliloquies and salty quills in equal measure. Revolori plays timidly the awkward Nat with the greatest delicacy, while Mantzoukas was born to play the evil alcoholic who has been Richard. Much of what works about the film is the innate ability of this latest talent to say as unpleasant or rude as possible, all the time as something completely genuine and sincere.
The film is co-written and directed by Hannah Fidell, who easily flexes her written and directing muscles, as she has done before in her limited but nonetheless impressive career. Her previous work includes the much-missed romantic drama 6 Years, which also starred Taissa Farmiga, about a long-term relationship from both the male and female perspective. It is as touching in its tenderness as it is blistering in its brutality.
The Long Dumb Road also has equal parts tender and blisters, but in the end you’re left wanting more. Ultimately, you are left wanting to spend more time with these characters, because in general they are very well made. A sequel to the movie is unlikely, but there is a positive side, however. Jason Mantzoukas, who has often been the best part of several popular comedies in recent years, has been working hard on a wildly entertaining podcast. If you’re a fan of his comedy style, which has a full effect here, then listen “How was this done?” It will definitely be worthwhile to invest your time.
Filmmaker Hannah Fidell knows how to choose them. With only four characteristics in her career, the writer and director has constantly demonstrated her ability not only to write juicy roles for both with a strong hand, but also to throw the damn things with the best possible people. His innovative feature, the bewildering (and nervous) drama “A Teacher” was elevated by his cast of Lindsay Burdge (who starred in his debut, “We’re happy to be here”) and Will Brittain as a teacher and blocked student. in a deeply unhealthy (and illegal) relationship. That followed with a relationship drama that went on in a different band, the moving “6 Years”, which followed Taissa Farmiga and Ben Rosenfeld as a young couple at different stages of their romance.
Then, although some surprise, Fidell chose to create a road trip comedy starring a couple of guys for his latest film, “The Long Dumb Road.” The best thing is that it has much more in common with its previous characteristics than something like “Due date” or “Lateral” (although here there are also nuances of movies like that).
Starring Jason Mantzoukas and Tony Revolori as a pair of unknowns coming together during an especially disastrous road trip through the southwestern United States, “The Long Dumb Road” makes an early case of Fidell’s ability to build a complete feature around a central relationship, regardless of gender or type of relationship on display. But while Mantzoukas and Revolori love them, consider them as their new and unexpected comedy duo among friends, “The Long Dumb Road” soon runs out of fuel, and delves into a series of increasingly incredible gadgets.
To Los Angeles and the promise of art school, Nat (Revolori) leaves his family suburban home in his family’s hand-held minivan, eager to spend his time photographing “the heart of real America” (read: many Images of strip-mall restaurant chains) as it moves towards its bright future. First lesson: do not trust a minivan that takes you thousands of miles across the country. Through a combination of chance and bad luck, Nat breaks into the middle of nowhere and his path intersects with Richard (Mantzoukas), who has just been fired from his job as a mechanic. Both of them need something from each other, so Nat and Richard ride and depart through Texas, a trip that was made even more enjoyable thanks to the great score of Keegan DeWitt.
Their union is initially uncomfortable; It is impossible to shake the feeling that Richard is a kind of hunter, although he has been given a tremendous heart by the shrill-voiced Mantzoukas and his strange ability to do almost anything funny. The road trip film offers many opportunities for Serious Talks, and Nat and Richard soon begin to share a huge amount of personal information. These entry points do not immediately lead to deeper levels of understanding, but become excuses to stage the pieces (and for each character to deliver their motivations in a minimum of time).
Hannah Fidell is a filmmaker that we’ve been following since her 2013 debut A Teacher, a tense and tense thriller that we reviewed here at Sundance. In that debut, she showed a knack for creating a disconcerting intimacy and maintaining a constantly tense atmosphere throughout the entire time of a film’s execution. In 2015, Fidell brought his second feature film 6 years to South by Southwest, and presented another tense and unexpectedly violent love story. Any evaluation of his career so far would have to include the fact that he has a dark streak, an intrepid propensity to explore all the ways in which love and company can go wrong. It was the kind of cinematic beginning of a career in which a filmmaker can be pigeonholed to tell the same kind of stories over and over again. This can still be a road to success, especially in the independent space, but the filmmaker’s growth often stagnates.
With his third, Fidell breaks that trend in a big way. The Long Dumb Road is not a timid or saccharine movie, but it is a tonal deviation from what we have seen of this young and promising voice in the past. It is a road trip comedy anchored by two polar opposite opponents, Jason Mantzoukas, of the League, and Tony Revolori, of the Grand Grand Hotel.
Revolori plays Nat, a 19-year-old who travels from his family home in Austin, TX to art school in Los Angeles. Along the way, Nat stumbles over some problems with the car and is saved by the fiercely authentic Richard. Like Richard, Mantzoukas enters the film like a buzzing: a tornado of blasphemy and rebellious energy. Recently relieved of his work in a car garage by the side of the road, Richard successfully solves the problems of Nat’s car and, in turn, earns a trip to Las Vegas, where he will start a new life.
The two actors, one known for their charming and tenuous performances and the other for their moments of maniacal and absurd comedy, are an unlikely but charming couple. A good part of the movie is spent with them alone in a car exploring the lives of their characters. Both are good storytellers; Both offer a masterful reaction comedy. Fidell and director of photography Andrew Droz Palermo use the beautiful views along that long journey between central Texas and southern California to complement the comedy with impressive cinematography, but it is the company that matters most.
Even in the space of a 90 minute run time, each part of the trip has room to breathe. Nat is a young artist who is interested in capturing “The Real America” through his Pentax camera, and Richard is ready to turn things on at any time. Together, they stumble on their journey, bringing out the best in each one.
In that sense, it’s a fairly traditional rare couple road trip movie. But that’s not something we should resist, sometimes the familiar is fine if they give us something else that is new. And the new thing here is that Fidell sees Jason Mantzoukas as a legitimate man leader. He is often seen as a support player, and that works. In programs such as The League or in independent films like Sleeping With Other People, Mantzoukas has always been a burst of comic energy widely used. Here, his explosions are flanked by a rough dramatic work to bring the film. He has a great career partner in Revolori, but this is the Mantzoukas
The Long Dumb Road is the exact type of film you expect to see from a filmmaker who has spent a few years on the festival circuit. It is something different and fresh, but it does not lack in the distinctive movements of that filmmaker. Hannah Fidell is still a filmmaker to watch, but this could be the kind of accessible and sophisticated comedy that allows her to find a wider audience. Especially if this movie ends up in the ledger of an intelligent studio or broadcast service. Deliciously strange, relentlessly funny, occasionally vulgar and considered the right way, The Long Dumb Road demands your attention until the end of the final credits.