There is nothing better than being surrounded by your favourite group of mentally ill people. Mental illness doesn’t need to try hard to be beautiful and tragic –to demonstrate the epitomic strength and vulnerability of the human condition. This is why the opening scene in The Road Within absorbed me immediately.
Robert Sheehan very honestly plays Vincent, a young man with Tourette’s syndrome trying to suppress his ticks during his mother’s funeral. The first five minutes are devastating and true. Fifteen minutes in, I felt bored. I perked up a little when Zoe Kravitz showed up as the beautiful Marie. But her performance wasn’t authentic, mostly because there wasn’t a lot for her to work with. Her character is the typical “cool girl” mold: beautiful, slightly damaged and in need of saving. In terms of clichés, “it was all downhill from there.” Next we find out Vincent’s father, played by Robert Patrick, is a politician on the campaign trail. He says things like, “I can’t afford a scandal.” Can I stop there? You get it. They tried too hard, when they didn’t have to. They went wide, instead of going deep.
There were a few honest moments. It was funny and heart-breaking when one of the friends, Alex (Dev Patel,) insists on stopping the car after he hits a pothole. Alex has OCD and because of his extreme anxiety he convinces himself what he hit wasn’t a pothole, but a pregnant woman and he’s killed her and the baby. Alex’s freak-out speaks to the mental anguish that leads to the odd ways someone with OCD may behave. That’s interesting – showing the audience something they may not know. The film didn’t have enough of these moments. It failed over and over to draw me in. Even the single sex scene couldn’t keep my attention. Fortunately it was pretty short, but not short enough. This film is boring and lacking in imagination, but it has a happy ending!
Dir: Gren Wells
Scr: Gren Wells
Cast: Robert Sheehan, Zoe Kravitz, Dev Patel, Robert Patrick, Kyra Sedgwick
Prd: Bradley Gallo, Michael Helfant
DOP: Christopher Baffa
Music: Josh Debney, The Newton Brothers
Run time: 101 minutes
The Road Within is available digitally now.