Are you a fan of Quentin Tarantino? Is your favorite film Pulp Fiction? It’s a popular choice, when people are asked the question—its winding, out-of-sequence story is both captivating and classic, something that’s rarely done in the bare-bones Hollywood of today. There’s something about Tarantino’s style that’s very hard for other directors to replicate—and they have tried. But, if you answered “yes” to either of the above questions, then this film is for you!
In Detour, director Christopher Smith nails that vibe. The stylized, almost ’70s aesthetic permeated the entire plot of this road movie—which, in itself, evoked an earlier period where the road story was as popular as the big-stage musical. This is a basic story, told in a very compelling fashion (much like Pulp Fiction). The trailer makes it out to be a branching storyline with multiple possibilities playing out at once—which is what drew me into this film, artistically. I’m happy to report that it’s not that, but something far more twisted. Apparently, there was a crew member whose entire job it was (according to the end credits) to keep the continuity—would’ve hated to have that job!
The delivery is very grown-up. This movie may not ever see wide release, but I’m okay with that. It’s a film the way its director envisioned it, untouched by a ratings panel. It was a little heavy with the adult content, which—for money’s sake—even the larger theatres tend to steer clear of. I love the interplay between the scenes, both known and as-yet-unknown. The twists and turns taken in act three kept me glued to the screen, all the way through to the end credits.
When it comes to indie films—and I think we can all agree that that’s what Amazon Studios is at this point: an indie studio, despite their pairing with Magnet Releasing—soundtrack is key. Not all the small movies can support the score they’d like with the budget they have. That’s why Deadpool only advertised a certain song in the trailer, but settled with another—the filmmakers couldn’t afford their first choice. In this film, though, the music is ecstatic, the true heartbeat of the film—subtle in some scenes, quite noticeable in others. A perfect accent, as it’s supposed to be.
Tye Sheridan really came out of nowhere; in the role of Harper, he assumes the position of struggling male counterpart to Bel Powley’s misunderstood tramp. He is very expressive, acting a lot of his scenes out without saying too much. There’s a chemistry between his and Powley’s characters that is evident early-on, and the arc that develops is a quaint one. The ending is not so much happy, but a deserved one, fitting of the story.
This movie came completely out of left field. The cinematography was on-point—evoking a bygone era of Hollywood where everything on-screen didn’t need to be exploding or overly-CG’d. The tone was melancholy and muted, making for a whirlwind trip from title card to credits. It threw me for a loop, as far as lay-out, but I’m happy that it surprised me. Detour gets a *****/ ‘Risk Assessment. Here’s to the resurgence of independent cinema, long live it.
Unfortunately, this is only available on Amazon Video for the time-being, but for a modest price of $6.99 for a 48-hour rental. Do make an effort to see this one, though, if you have an artistic appreciation for the cinematically-fresh.
Next review: The Founder