Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Overlooked DVD of the month - RESERVATION ROAD

I'm not sure why RESERVATION ROAD didn't get distribution in the UK but the good news is that it's available on DVD. It's a beautifully crafted, emotionally charged drama about the impact of a hit and run accident on the perpetrator and the victim's family. The perp - Mark Ruffallo - is a divorced father who doesn't stop because he's afraid that the legal ramifications will result in him losing his son. It's a cowardly but plausible action and the rest of the film is about the character working up the courage to confess. The victim's family - Jennifer Connelly and Joaquin Phoenix - are alienated from each other by the death. The father takes to stalking the road where the accident took place, photographing the plates of similar cars, trying to track down the killer. Eventually he realises that the perp is his lawyer. Some people have said that this seems convenient. But I think it's eminently plausible that when a devastating act hits a local community, the ties that bind are many and various.

RESERVATION ROAD is one of those films that takes its time and patiently investigates the emotional distress of its characters. The acting is raw and powerful - the ending suitably ambiguous. I love that for once we see both sides of a story and that the so called bad character - the hit and run driver - is shown to be just a typically flawed and frail man trying to be a good father. Mark Ruffalo deserves credit for his brilliant central performance. And as a straightforward investigation of grief this movie has far more honesty about it than something like THE THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE.

RESERVATION ROAD played Toronto 2007 and was released in 2007, though not in the UK. It is available on DVD.

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