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|Shadows off the beaten path
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|See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL | Last update 9.Feb.24
Review by Rich Cline |
dir Emma Westenberg
scr Ruby Caster
prd Mark Amin, Christine Vachon, Clara McGregor, Vera Bulder, Greg Lauritano
with Clara McGregor, Ewan McGregor, Kim Zimmer, Devyn McDowell, Vera Bulder, Jake Weary, Sasha Alexander, Travis Hammer, Willard Runsabove, Kristin K Berg, Eve Kozikowski, Jacob Browneh
release US 16.Feb.24
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Real-life father and daughter Ewan and Clara McGregor play an estranged father and self-destructive daughter in this lively and very emotional road movie. Director Emma Westenberg maintains a loose vibe that keeps things fresh while the screenplay manipulates an awkward relationship between two people who no longer know each other very well. The camera casually observes details in each scene, and along the way things get very bleak indeed.
Driving across the American Southwest in a gas-guzzling pickup, an unnamed man (Ewan McGregor) is trying to help his unnamed daughter (Clara McGregor). He is removing her from her addictive lifestyle, hoping to get her back on track as a painter. Now sober, he understands her pain as she goes through withdrawal, not that she'll let him see it. On the road, they meet several colourful people who spark a range of feelings. And the key fact is that the father isn't the person the daughter knew all those years ago. And neither is she.
This man hasn't been much of a father, so doesn't exactly command respect from his daughter. It isn't exactly helpful that he keeps reminding her that she's lucky to be alive after her last overdose, and she certainly doesn't want to attend an addiction group meeting. Rehab is out of the question. Flickers of flashbacks to happier days many years ago add some nice textures. Although the arc of the central relationship feels carefully structured to a screenwriting formula, it continually touches on moments of truth.
Ewan and Clara McGregor create a wonderfully spiky chemistry between this cynical dad and free-spirited daughter. They continually push each others' boundaries, and also reveal deeper layers of concern for each other along the way. So while their connection is often antagonistic, it is textured with underlying emotion that's unusually complex. The fact that they had much happier days many years ago almost feels like a painful memory, as it reminds them what went wrong.
It seems perhaps a bit tidy that the problems in this relationship were caused by the parent's addiction, and now they are grappling with the child's similar journey. And most of the serious elements in the script feel very sharply pointed in ways the rest of the film doesn't. This shift between earthy realism and more heightened melodrama is sometimes jaggedly awkward, but the McGregors play each scene with raw honesty.
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
© 2024 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall
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