Film re­view

A father and son on a “last wishes” road trip movie, and the re­turn of the hand­maids.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - ON SCREEN - With KATE RODGER

This film from the get go is owned by Ed Har­ris. Even when he’s not on screen you can still sense his pres­ence sim­mer­ing and fes­ter­ing with rage and re­gret. The four­time Os­car nom­i­nee has been a for­mi­da­ble screen ac­tor for decades and I’d ar­gue he has never been bet­ter than he is here.

More on Har­ris to come, but the first im­por­tant thing to note about this film is that there isn’t any­thing par­tic­u­larly fresh about its premise. The es­tranged son twisted out of shape with the bit­ter­ness of dis­ap­point­ment, a decade since he’s spo­ken to his father. Then he is called to his father’s house, find­ing him in the final stages of can­cer with just months to live. It’s soon clear the dy­ing man wishes to atone his pa­tri­ar­chal sins and make his peace be­fore he dies. His son doesn’t want a bar of it.

We’ve seen this done be­fore and we’ve cer­tainly seen it done bet­ter. But it’s tes­ta­ment to Har­ris and his two co-stars, El­iz­a­beth Ol­son and Ja­son Sudeikis, that they lift this other­wise mostly pedes­trian ma­te­rial into a very en­gag­ing and watch­able out­ing.

Ed Har­ris (Apollo 13/West­world) is

Ben Ry­der, a fa­mous pho­tog­ra­pher. He’s spent more of his life on the road tak­ing pic­tures of strangers, than be­ing at home with his wife and son Matt. To call him dis­agree­able would be an un­der­state­ment – he can be truly hate­ful and has alien­ated most of the peo­ple close to him, in­clud­ing of course, Matt.

Matt (Sudeikis) is a mu­sic pro­ducer fall­ing on tough times, the chang­ing face of the mu­sic in­dus­try leav­ing him in­creas­ingly out in the cold. When his father’s nurse, Zoe (Olsen), rolls up to his of­fice out of the blue she most cer­tainly isn’t wel­come. But she per­suades Matt to visit Ben and hear what he has to say.

And what Ben says is this: he wants his only son to drive him half­way across the coun­try to Par­sons, Kansas, with his last four re­main­ing rolls of Ko­dachrome film and they have just a week to do it. His dead­line is twofold – it’s not just Ben who is dy­ing; the age of Ko­dachrome film is dy­ing along­side him. Dwayne’s photo lab in Par­sons is the last re­main­ing de­vel­oper of Ko­dachrome film in the world and they, too, are clos­ing up shop.

So the two men, with Zoe in tow, hit the road in Ben’s con­vert­ible Saab, the film find­ing it’s beat to the rhythm of an ex­cel­lent sound­track and build­ing into a road trip I re­ally en­joyed tak­ing.

So the trick here? Ex­pect the ex­pected and em­brace this father/son redemp­tion roadie more for the jour­ney than the des­ti­na­tion. The fact you can see that des­ti­na­tion be­fore you’ve hit the free­way means you don’t need a map, you can just set­tle in and soak up the scenery, the sounds and the com­pany. He might never ac­tu­ally take the wheel, but you’re in good hands know­ing Har­ris is driv­ing this story safely home.

Ko­dachrome Star­ring Ed Har­ris, El­iz­a­beth Olsen and Ja­son Sudeikis. Di­rected by Mark Raso.

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