Roll out the nos­tal­gia for a road trip to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER - OPENS THURS­DAY

“PAUL Si­mon wrote a song about it. A state park was named af­ter it. Na­tional Geo­graphic shot their most fa­mous pho­tos on it. And we de­vel­oped the last roll.”

So reads the sou­venir T-shirt printed by Dwayne’s Photo, in Par­sons, Kansas, the last lab in the world to process Ko­dachrome.

Be­fore the ma­chines were shut down — at the end of 2010 — a stream of ama­teur and pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phers made the pil­grim­age to the prairiebound city, not far from the Ok­la­homa bor­der, to de­velop their re­main­ing rolls of film.

There’s a cracker of a story in there some­where, bathed in the warm nos­tal­gic glow of the colour-rich stock, which as Si­mon put it in his 1973 hit, “Makes all the world a sunny day.” But Ko­dachrome isn’t it.

Jonathan Trop­per’s screen­play was in­spired by a New York Times ar­ti­cle, writ­ten by A. G. Sulzberger, in which the jour­nal­ist makes a pass­ing ref­er­ence to Na­tional Geo­graphic pho­tog­ra­pher Steve McCurry, who shot, among other things, the mag­a­zine’s well-known cover por­trait of an Afghan girl.

When Ko­dak stopped pro­duc­ing Ko­dachrome, the com­pany gave McCurry the last role. He hand-de­liv­ered it to Par­sons for pro­cess­ing.

“I wasn’t go­ing to take any chances,” he told Sulzberger.

Trop­per has taken that jour­nal­is­tic snip­pet and ex­panded it into a father-and­son road movie that coasts along the high­way on cruise con­trol. Every dra­matic se­quence, every plot point is clearly sign­posted.

The snap­per, whose name has been changed to Ben (Ed Har­ris), has ter­mi­nal cancer.

He uses the death card to con­vince his es­tranged son, Matt (Jason Sudeikis), a downon-his-luck record com­pany ex­ec­u­tive, to ac­com­pany him on a road trip to Kansas to process a handful of pre­cious rolls of film he has been sav­ing. The two men hit a few pot­holes along the way, but slowly, painfully, they rec­on­cile.

El­iz­a­beth Olsen’s nurse doubles as the ro­man­tic at­trac­tion for Matt.

Ko­dachrome trav­els from go to whoa with­out mak­ing one sur­prise de­tour.

Har­ris com­mits vis­cer­ally to the role of iras­ci­ble cynic, but his char­ac­ter arc is frus­trat­ingly flat. Olsen, too, makes the best of her lim­ited ma­te­rial. Sudeikis has per­haps the most chal­leng­ing role. He strug­gles to find the right pitch.

Ko­dachrome, which was shot on Ko­dak 35mm film, cer­tainly looks hand­some.

But if you’re af­ter a per­sonal, mov­ing trib­ute to the vin­tage medium, try to find Syd­ney film­maker An­drew G. Tay­lor’s lyri­cal, low-bud­get mem­oir First Per­son Ko­dachrome, which screened on the ABC a few years back.

Ben (Ed Har­ris) and Matt (Jason Sudeikis).

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