The Road Movie

Cover your eyes and weep for your soul, here comes Dmitrii Kalashnikov's horror show of exploitative chutzpah, a 70-minute feature consisting of nothing but incidents recorded by the dashcams of Russian motorists. There are wipeouts and head-ons, semis barreling down in the wrong lane and trams losing power and sliding straight into traffic; livestock flipped by speeding drivers and a viciously troubled young man who climbs onto a young woman's hood to bang his fists on her windshield. The mayhem is hypnotic, scabrous, scarifying, unpredictable, astonishing, dispiriting, repetitious, clearly both amoral and immoral, and by the end, a little dull. Even over the short running time, you can feel your humanity's diminishment. It's not bloody, exactly, but you -- like the drivers of the cars we peer out of -- will spend many minutes here waiting, in pained awe, as we regard crumpled vehicles, "Is that driver dead?"

What's interesting, here, besides the disquieting fact of the movie's existence and profitability, is the glimpses it offers into everyday Russian life. You're never more yourself than when you're driving a car, and the chatter we hear before all hell breaks loose often proves fascinating. (So does the Russian pop music the drivers have chosen.) Of course, anytime you see 10 or 20 seconds of uninterrupted, incident-free driving here, you will tense up, possibly gripped by a panicked sense-memory. All through the movie, as the unseen drivers hurtled along, I found myself pumping phantom breaks. Some especially memorable miles find us plunged with the drivers into smoke that obscures the road, including a trip through a forest fire, the sky a pinkish purple and the flames edging to the roadside.

Credits

Director:

  • Dmitrii Kalashnikov

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