It turns out that there are people out there who don’t know that dashcams (dashboard mounted cameras for your automotive vehicle) are ubiquitous in Russia. If you’ve seen one gif of a guy charging a car and hurling himself into the windshield, you’ve seen another where it starts out like that, but the woman sits and cries on the hood instead.
Dashcam footage is a popular guilty pleasure online, though I have to say that I’ve never gotten into it. It always seemed to me that most of the thrill was watching people die. And I don’t really want to watch people die.
THE ROAD MOVIE sidesteps this concern by having no (or few, can’t be sure) clips of fatalities. Instead, it just has over an hour of short dashcam clips including: a dashcam being stolen and the thief being chased down, several passing-based crashes, at least one taxi driver getting a list of prices from a prostitute, and (of course) the comet that lit up the sky like a second sun.
All of this and more is served up in no particular order, though most clips are grouped according to similar content. Some highlights include the two dudes who crash over a barrier into a river, only to calmly accept their car’s newfound passion as a boat; a road rage fist fight that plays out silently underneath a talk radio report about how Russian society is becoming less civilized and more violent (and cannibalistic); and, my personal favourite, a person successfully passing three cars, one after the other, as their (I can only assume) mother quavers and begs them to stop passing cars as they’re going to di-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ie (spoiler alert:—you get it).
Yes, it turns out that when you take the largest country on earth, give them thousands of cars, and put a camera in each one of those cars, you get some incredible footage. But what you don’t get are really strong beginnings or endings to… well, anything. The movie itself comes into existence during a whiteout and abruptly cuts off after a rollover. Is this good? Is this bad? Is there a better dashcam movie to be made?
But after seeing this one, why bother making it?
There’s something to be said for simply cultivating extraordinary moments from ordinary life, but the actual compilation of these moments leaves something to be desired. It’s not that it’s bad—it’s that it could pretty much be a YouTube playlist without losing anything of value. Though at least this way, I don’t have to hit “skip ad”. THREE STARS
BONUS REVIEW: Florida is known for many things. Being part of Cuba, the Disney place that isn’t Disneyland, the bath salts zombie incident. But here’s one more thing Lauren DeFilippo (director of CLEAN HANDS) thinks it should be known for: a quaint little out of the way church that happens to be a drive-in.
You roll up in your car, get your communion, tune in to 88.5FM and listen to the pastor talk about roombas and spiritual cleansing. If you want, you can bring your cat. (Though I’d pack an ice pack for kitty.)
CLEAN HANDS is essentially flawless, so it winds up being graded mostly on content. It’s a shame nobody jumped on any hoods. THREE AND A HALF STARS