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David Nathie Barnes,
There's a murky tenuous balance between reality and fiction; particularly when it involves a beautiful young woman, murder, a powerful politico, a missing fortune and suicide. A passionate filmmaker creating a film based upon a true crime casts an unknown mysterious young woman bearing a disturbing resemblance to the femme fatale in the story. Unsuspectingly, he finds himself drawn into a complex web of haunting intrigue, obsessed with the woman, the crime, her possibly notorious past and the disturbing complexity between art and truth. From the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina to Verona, Rome and London, new truths are revealed and clues to other crimes and passions, darker and even more complex are uncovered. Written by
Dense, poetic & mysterious Journey into the Unknown from Monte Hellman
Monte Hellman remains one of America's greatest living filmmakers, director of metaphysical classics like TWO-LANE BLACKTOP (1971), arguably the ultimate American Road Movie, COCKFIGHTER (1974) and a handful of others. Like the masterful Spanish filmmaker Victor Erice (whose classic THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE Hellman gives a nod to in ROAD TO NOWHERE), it's something of a crime that Hellman has directed as few films as he has. So there's great reason to celebrate with the arrival of ROAD TO NOWHERE, his first full feature in over 20 years.
Hellman being who he is, ROAD TO NOWHERE is as dense, poetic and mysterious as anything he's made since probably THE SHOOTING in 1968. In fact, his new film is likely his most challenging ever -- but that shouldn't put you off. On the surface, it's the story of a real-life murder-suicide connected to a Southern politician -- a mystery which gets inextricably entangled with the making of a film about the tragedy directed by a moody, obsessive filmmaker (Tygh Runyan, who also played the moody, obsessive Stanley Kubrick in Hellman's "Stanley's Girlfriend") and starring a beautiful, opaque actress (Shannyn Sossamon, in easily her strongest and most rewarding performance to date). Add to this an almost infinite rogue's gallery of characters including veteran actors Cliff De Young and John Diehl, a wry extended cameo from Italian pulp cinema icon Fabio Testi (from Hellman's CHINA 9, LIBERTY 37) -- and you have the strangest Hall of Mirrors this side of THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI.
If you struggle to make "sense" of the plot, you'll probably miss the point -- since one of the major themes that emerges in ROAD TO NOWHERE is the impossibility of ever making sense of anything. (Hence the title: the Road leads Nowhere, but that shouldn't stop you from taking the journey.) Hellman uses a similar narrative strategy as in his classic TWO-LANE BLACKTOP where about halfway through the story the actual race stops mattering. In ROAD TO NOWHERE, the question of who committed the murder (or whether there was a murder at all) slowly drifts away in a Sargasso Sea of false leads, flashbacks and unanswered questions. What's left is Hellman's portrait of monstrous artistic obsession and some of his most intense and erotically-charged filmmaking ever, played out in long, lingering scenes between Sossamon and Runyan. There's also a bit of M.C. Escher here, like walking up a staircase only to find yourself at the bottom of another staircase, and another ...
If you're looking for an easy ride, then you should probably look elsewhere. But if you want to wander off-road, into the mysterious and inexplicable Zone (to quote from Tarkovsky's STALKER) where nothing is as it seems -- then Monte Hellman's ROAD TO NOWHERE is for you.
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