The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


The Road Movie

I watched the entirety of The Road Movie with my mouth agape. I'm not entirely sure how this film exists, but it does, and it's kind of awesome. This is seventy minutes of dashcam video from Russia, where the act of attaching a camera to the windshield of one's car is apparently a phenomenon. The sights shown are alternately scary, funny, and amazing. Obviously, you don't get a traditional documentary here. That's part of what makes it so engrossing. There's nothing else quite like it.

Oh, the sights you see in this film! A car speeds down a road, fails to navigate a turn, barrels through a guardrail, and crashes into a river, where it starts to float downstream. During a road rage incident, the driver of one car threatens the occupants of the other with a tomahawk, then discharges a gun into the grill of their auto. A guy who is either on drugs or experiencing a serious mental health crisis inexplicably jumps on the hood of a woman's car and beats on the windshield. Panicked, she speeds down the street with him there. You also witness a meteor sighting, a police chase, and enough terrifying head-on crashes to make you start praying that no one was killed.

Of course, there isn't any context to a lot of these videos, and not every clip used is as exciting as those just described. Nevertheless, The Road Movie weaves a spell because it speaks to what's really happening on the world's roads. It's tense behind the wheel of a car these days. Everyone's in a hurry, and being in a vehicle gives some people a sense of invincibility, causing them to behave more aggressively than they would otherwise. This documentary simply captures what's already there.

On top of that, The Road Movie is a compelling look at our obsession with video cameras. Why would anyone put a camera on their dashboard and film while they drive? Because they know that eventually they'll capture something crazy something that can be put online, something that could go viral. The people whose footage is used in the film are essentially fishermen. They go about their business, waiting for something to bite. They know that we'll watch it, too. Cameras are so pervasive these days because we're a global culture of voyeurs. Let's face it you have to be at least a little voyeuristic to watch seventy minutes of dashcam video, right?

There's not much else to say. If The Road Movie sounds interesting to you, you'll love it. The doc is wall-to-wall bizarreness, and in its best moments, it achieves outright insanity. I don't know what's in the water over there in Russia, but apparently people aren't afraid of driving like maniacs or confronting one another over trivial infractions. That happens in America as well, needless to say. All of it just seems more intense in Russian.

What a gloriously bonkers documentary.

( out of four)

The Road Movie is unrated, but contains adult language, violence, and brief nudity. The running time is 1 hour and 10 minutes.

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