A mosaic of asphalt adventures, landscape photography, Dmitrii Kalashnikov's THE ROAD MOVIE is a stunning compilation of video footage shot exclusively via the deluge of dashboard cameras that populate Russian roads. THE ROAD MOVIE captures a wide range of spectacles through the windshield and paints picture and commentary on Russia today.
Super objective dashboardcam videos grow into a strong image of the Russian national character, permanently awaiting for a miracle and the habitual approach to real dramas. Everything can happen on the road of... life.
a documentary in the truest sense of the word - and a great guilty pleasure
"The Road Movie" (NR, 1:07) is a documentary from Belarus and is unlike any doc you've ever seen. It's short for a feature-length film and it has no narration or graphics (except for some words and numbers that appear on the screen), which makes this movie a documentary in the purest sense of the word. It documents. Period. Even more unusual is WHAT it documents - the strange things that happen on the roads of Russia and other former Soviet Republics. That's right, it's a movie made up of dashcam videos.
But it's much more than just a series of spectacular vehicle crashes (even though there are plenty of those). These videos span 2011-2016 (based on the dates on the outer edges of the clips) and they let us see and hear shocking, humorous and bewildering things that happen in the car, to the car and outside of the car - and quite the variety it is - and almost all from the cars of ordinary, everyday people. Throughout the movie, there are the aforementioned crashes - and horrible driving conditions - from fire to ice and everything in between. From a couple different angles, we see a streak of light in the sky. (Is it a meteor? Is it a plane crash? Is it a UFO? We hear drivers and passengers discussing it, but they never find out. And neither do we.) There's a police chase through the streets of Moscow - with an unidentified vehicle heading straight for St. Peter's Square (one of the few sequences from police cars).
And the videos include plenty of clips of people behaving oddly, comically and inexplicably: An apparently mentally ill person jumps on the hood of a car and starts screaming at the windshield. A barefoot young woman who is crying appears out of nowhere, sits on the hood of a car for a moment, and then walks over the top of it. A driver who is apparently upset at the driver with the dashcam comes after that driver with an axe - and then things really get serious. Another driver and his passenger negotiate terms with an unseen prostitute (audio only, but subtitled for non-Russian audiences).
It's all shot from the (usually) stationary, but unflinching perspective of the dashcam (like when a thief grabs one of the cameras and runs off with it - with the owner in hot pursuit). "The Road Movie" is skillfully edited voyeuristic pleasure. It's often surprising, sometimes funny, occasionally frightening and always interesting. Like observing a car crash, police chase or another person even crazier than you, you just can't look away. This film allows us to indulge in some good old-fashioned rubber-necking, in many different situations and without the fear of getting into an accident ourselves or being judged by others - unless of course, they see you watching the movie, but then, they are too! This film is not winning any Oscars, but it does provide a guilty pleasure for those of us who THINK that where WE drive is crazy! "B"
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