Sally Potter's THE ROADS NOT TAKEN follows a day in the life of Leo (Javier Bardem) and his daughter, Molly (Elle Fanning) as she grapples with the challenges of her father's chaotic mind. As they weave their way through New York City, Leo's journey takes on a hallucinatory quality as he floats through alternate lives he could have lived, leading Molly to wrestle with her own path as she considers her future.
There was originally another story set in New York where Bardem and Chris Rock played lovers, but when Sally Potter was editing the movie, and admittedly much to her dismay, she didn't feel it clicked with the rest of the movie so she cut out those scenes. See more »
Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring ring.
The Roads Not Taken begins with a ringing phone over the opening credits. The credits are synced to the ringing. It took me years to get past the beginning of Once Upon a Time in America, beginning as it did with an incessantly ringing telephone. Every time I'd just throw my hands up and say not today, Sergio!
But eventually I got over that hump and was richly rewarded. Which is why I simply dug my fingernails into my palms and waited this one out. I'm glad I did. For whatever reason, there's always a good movie on the other side of an interminably ringing phone.
(It has a point, the ringing. It's thematic.)
The movie is hypnotically paced. Somewhere in the back of my mind I imagined myself glancing at my watch, stopping the film, and doing something else with my time. But I never glanced at my watch. Not once. OK, there was the one time I checked how much longer the film had to go, but not because I was bored -- it was because I was worried it would end too soon.
The performances are -- let me say this. It's not fantasy. I thought the premise (or at least my initial interpretation of the title) was going to go in more of a whimsical About Time-ish direction. Like this is a man who is experiencing a supernatural event in which he must choose which path to take. It's not that. It's very much a man with dementia existing in different places in his memories, envisioning different choices, while his daughter tries to connect with him in the present.
So the performances are brilliant. There was a moment in a cab early in the movie when I was afraid Sally Potter was going to do like what Terrence Malick did with those three little weird movies of his. You know the ones I mean. Where he just got his video camera and followed actors around. They were like, "So where's the script, Terry?" And he was like, "JUST DO WHATEVER YOU WANT, I'LL FIGURE IT OUT IN POST."
There's a bit in a Costco parking garage that's just perfect.
Lastly, I want to talk about the music. It's the best thing about the movie. I will be buying the soundtrack. I haven't bought a film soundtrack since The Mission.
Oh and one more thing, with regards to phones ringing in films -- there's a limit. It's two. Two rings! That's all you get! If you need more you gotta use silent film intertitles. Them's the rules.
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