Germany | France 2019
Opening May 30, 2019
Directed by: Sebastian Schipper
Writing credits: Sebastian Schipper, Oliver Ziegenbalg
Principal actors: Fionn Whitehead, Stéphane Bak, Moritz Bleibtreu, Ben Chaplin, Marie Burchard
An unlikely pair joins forces in Morocco with but one goal – getting to France. Londoner Gyllen’s (Whitehead) anger at his mum is propelling him toward dad (Chaplin), whereas Congolese William (Bak) is trying to locate his brother. The tourists travel along highways and bi-ways on 4-wheels, 2-wheels and two feet, while crossing borders, and sharing encounters. These range from madcap misadventures, to skirmishes—a propos an aging German hippie (Bleibtreu), to hair-raising exchanges, and disillusionment. When they finally reach Paul, now with Veronica (Burchard) and other plans, Paul sides with mum. Stunned, it dawns on Gyllen, and Will, that what they are finding is not precisely what they were looking for. Subsequently, they find more than most people could hope for in a lifetime.
In director Sebastian Schipper’s comedic drama, co-written with Oliver Ziegenbalg, roads are an analogy to people’s choices throughout his or her lifetime. Current affair issues are astutely inserted in the screenplay without deflecting from the main story. Fantastic casting is by Stéphanie Doncker (France), Jina Jay and Suse Marquardt (Germany); Fionn Whitehead and Stéphane Bak’s portrayals are genuine, poised and empathetically nuanced. Two young men, barely 18, make up “team crazy-risky-stupid;” the protagonists learn and grow during their unscripted adventure with its heartening repercussions. As they open up to one another about their pasts, details disclose disappointments.
Editor Monica Coleman perceptively uses Matteo Cocco’s full-bodied cinematography, plus compelling sound design and music to fill-in blanks as the story unwinds, albeit Roads is somewhat too long. Some scenes are remarkable for being intuitively funny, e.g. when the two find Luttger’s stash, and their word-play game. Also, fun to watch is their predisposition to being unabashedly cool; depending on the predicament, the one who leads shifts from one to the other. We get a glimpse of what direction the duo will take, which is the difference between running to, instead of from, something. This film will indeed make your day. 100 minutes (Marinell H.)