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