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The Motel Life (2012)

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A pair of working-class brothers flee their Reno Motel after getting involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident.

Directors:

, (as Gabriel Polsky)
3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Andrew Lee ...
Young Frank
...
Frank
...
...
Boss Man
...
Mom
...
Polly Flynn
...
...
Tommy
...
Earl Hurley
...
Al Casey
...
Barry Hurley
...
Officer Cook
...
Officer Mori
Jim Gray ...
Boxing Sportscaster
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Storyline

Two brothers who are forced to leave Reno after being involved in a hit-and-run accident. Based on the novel by Willy Vlautin, this moody thriller is a searing and profound examination of brotherhood set in the timeless Sierra Nevadan frontier. Written by Polsky Films

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They will do anything to find the truth


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content, language, some nudity, brief violent images, and drug references | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

| |  »

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 November 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Vida em Motéis  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Dakota Fanning's sister, Elle Fanning has also starred with the film's star, Stephen Dorff in Somewhere. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jerry Lee 16 years: Can you tell me a story, Frankie? Tell me something good. Make me the hero. Maybe I can get the girl.
Frank - 14: I got one. A long time ago, you and me were fighter pilots in the war. The Flannigan brothers. We were famous. One morning we were heading over to Germany when we got ambushed. You and me versus 20 German fighters. It was a mess. Real dog fight. It was touch-and-go, but we were winning until a Nazi came out of the fog and started firing away at you. Luckily I came down and blew the...
See more »

Connections

Features Bonanza: Dark Star (1960) See more »

Soundtracks

The Boyfriends
Written by Willy Vlautin
Performed by Richmond Fontaine
Courtesy of El Cortez Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A strained but serious effort at interpersonal drama with a realistic edge
13 September 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Motel Life (2012)

Brimming with conventional thriller possibilities, including a serious tinge about brothers remaining loyal to the end, "The Motel Life" ends up a near miss in scene after scene. We learn quickly that there is a pact made between the two because of a mother who dies and leaves them little to live on. And we see how one brother has killed someone in his car by mistake (it seems) and so ends up dragging both brothers into the flight from justice.

This all sounds solid, yes. But there are just those endless little things that set it wrong. The acting varies from excellent (Frank, one of the two brothers) to strained (Jerry, who overacts) to awkward (a couple of their friends playing stereotypical parts). The plot has elements of intensity, for sure—too many, you might say—but it also rings too many familiar bells. There is death, gambling, amputation, prostitution, drinking, gay-bashing, attempted suicide, theft (of a dog!), and an extended hospital scene that ends with great and necessary drama.

To say the flaws here are the result of the low budget is to miss what might have been a golden opportunity: making a truly original story out of these young men caught between honor and ordinary crime. That is, there is a raw edge here that could have been exploited with less aggressive writing that tips every angle into sensational excess. Only the steady, thoughtful leading actor, Frank, played by Emile Hirsch, holds it all together and makes it, in the end, at least worth watching. To his credit, a small but key part by Kris Kristofferson is also compelling and gives the movie some weight.

Co-directors Polsky and Polsky are new to movie-making, and it shows. But it's also apparent that something deeper is at work that might grow and be rewarding, especially with a better screenplay. Let's hope this is just a first tentative step forward.


7 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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