PBIFF’13 MOVIE REVIEW: “Along the Roadside”
With the exception of revisiting “The Kings of Summer” (formally titled “Toy’s House”), a film I saw at Sundance, Zoran Lisinac’s “Along the Roadside” was my favorite narrative feature from this year Palm Beach International Film Festival. I decided to skip out on the closing night film “Chez Upshaw” after watching the first 10 mins of it, I knew that film was going to be the WORST of the fest, so I decided to sneak into “Evil Dead” again. But I digress, I’m happy to report “Along the Roadside” as my last movie review for the festival.
“Along the Roadside” is a unique road movie about two young people from different parts of the world. Varnie (Iman Crosson) has big things for himself as a prominent graphic designer, but after his long time girlfriend breaks the news that she’s pregnant, Varnie panics and leaves behind his girl and San Francisco. Nena (Angelina Häntsch), a German born cutie, makes her way to the states to follow her favorite band, Blonde Priest. She misses the San Francisco show, but trades in her tickets for the show down in Southern Cali. Varnie & Nena’s vastly different clashing of cultures and their journey of self-discovery collide when they meet purely accidentally.
Good road trip movies are extremely rare; especially the ones where they try not to be so damn cliché. This film is very much it’s own kind of film. It’s a culture clash film, set on the road of California. Varnie and Nena are complete polar opposites, yet they fit together ever so perfectly, which may be the one major thing stopping Varnie from committing to any woman, let alone his pregnant girlfriend or Nena herself.
The shining star of this film goes to newcomer to the States, Miss. Angelina Häntsch, and a delightful scene-stealer if I ever saw one. She’s too cute, and too adorable, it almost feels like it should be unbearable. But there’s a certain charm to her fish out of water personality, she has a rare sort of innocents that you don’t see in many newcomers from other countries. Her performances out ways the movie to a certain extent, you could say it’s the duos movie, but I like to think the focus on Nena is far superior to Varnie’s traditional problems.
A great element I liked about the movie was the part regarding Nena’s eyesight in which she is colorblind. Almost everything she see’s is gray, with a tint of blue objects radiating their blue oar. It’s an interesting contrast to Varnie’s racial features as an African American. Making friends with a strange German white girl who just so happens to be color blind, even he cannot believe the odds of that happening. We get small glimpses through Nena’s eyes and it’s an effective…well, effect for the movie.
The road trip takes a few bizarre detours, some amusing and some simply confusing. The scene with Michael Madsen as this weirdo named Jerry, will more than likely leave audiences heads scratching, I myself was quite taken by that sequence. The ending of the film I feel may be the movies mildest hiccup, at first you wonder why exactly did it come to this, but I feel that the movie ended with the intention that every viewer should give their own two cents and that would be the ending in itself; self interpretation. Serbian filmmaker, Zoran Lisinac makes his feature directorial debut, and from the looks of this movie, his career looks promising.