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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.

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Andrew Lee ...
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Boss Man
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Mom
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Polly Flynn
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Tommy
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Barry Hurley
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Officer Cook
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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 | Plot 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 »

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Details

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Release Date:

8 November 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Vida em Motéis  »

Filming Locations:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Willie Nelson was big inspiration to The Motel Life. 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...
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Connections

Features Bonanza: Dark Star (1960) See more »

Soundtracks

Oil Can (excerpt)
Written by Joe D'Augustine
Performed by Joe D'Augustine
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User Reviews

Better the Bates Motel than this sleeper.
12 November 2013 | by See all my reviews

Gloomy nomads and gloomy Nevada in the 1990's amount to a gloomy viewing experience in The Motel Life. The title clues us well enough: Living any time in a motel could be disastrous for mental health. The movie itself has that kind of despair.

Frank Lee (Emile Hirsch) helps wit-challenged brother, Jerry (Stephen Dorff), after the latter kills a boy on a bike and leaves the scene. Together they light out for motels with some imaginative cartoons representing stories Frank tells Jerry Lee throughout their lives. Some critics find the animations distracting; I find them imaginative and boredom reducing.

The confusing mash up of past and present (the boys are not much different from what they were) is relieved by Annie (Dakota Fanning), who is serene even in her conflicts. Fanning has grown into an intelligent actress and shows it here. In fact, Frank is fortunate to have such a dear girl improbably waiting for him. Another relief from motel boredom is cops looking for the driver of the lethal car. Add an enjoyable cameo by Kris Kristofferson as Earl Hurley, a car dealer, and the film is momentarily relieved from oblivion. Otherwise, the boys are on the lam and reminiscing while going deeper in debt and guilt.

One high point is their winning several thousand dollars betting on Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson. You can guess how wisely they use it. But the money allows them to go to another motel, by now a motif of squalor and loneliness, no surprise to those with limited income and without Marriott points. Changing motels and buying carry out food reinforce the rootless melancholy of these not-too-bright boys. It's tough to care about such nitwits.

On a more positive note, cinematographer Roman Vas'yanov captures the bleak winter landscape using film, not digits. It's possible to see how much more imposing the winter can be with old-fashioned celluloid. Just consider what Hitchcock achieves with that old Bates Motel. Now that's not dull.


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