Feb 232016
 
Road Within Poster
Title: The Road Within
Director: Gren Wells
Starring: Robert Sheehan,
Zoë Kravitz,
Dev Patel,
Robert Patrick,
Kyra Sedgwick
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Runtime: 1 Hour 37 mins
Music: Josh Debney
Studio: Arrow Films
Certificate: UK: 18
Release Date: UK: Feb 15 2016
See If You Like: Vincent Wants to Sea,

A Little Bit of Heaven writer Gren Wells marks her directorial debut with; a wonderfully heartwarming, fantastically funny film about three thrown-together fiends embarking upon a journey of self-discovery; The Road Within.

An extremely heartfelt film from beginning to end, and one which oozes with both comedy and emotion, The Road Within manages to bring comedy, awkwardness, and sadness, all within the opening two minutes; as we see a young man named Vincent (Robet Sheehan, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) struggling and failing to repress his Tourette’s Syndrome at his mother’s funeral, uncontrollably blurting out inappropriate comments to the point helot only embarrasses his family, but is forced to leave.

We subsequently see Vincent’s absentee father (Robert Patrick, Terminator 2: Judgement Day) ship him off to a treatment facility where he meets an obsessive clean-freak named Alex (Dev Patel, Chappie), and an anorexic young girl named Marie (Zoë Kravitz, X-Men: First Class), and the trio soon wind up stealing the doctor’s car and setting off on a road trip hoping to take Vincent’s mother’s ashes to the ocean.

Needless to say there are problems along the way; Vincent’s ticks make it impossible for him to drive, Marie’s refusing to eat, and Alex’s compulsions, Germophobia, and irrational fears mean even getting opening a car door becomes a lengthy task; plus with no money between them, and Vincent’s father and their doctor (Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer) on their tail, the unlikely trio have a lot to contend with.

What we get then, is an unusually emotive buddy comedy with a difference; we laugh along as the three joke, constantly bicker, and make fun of one another (winding Marie up about her weight, forcing Vincent to tick, and putting dirt on Alex’s shirt), and begin to realise just how debilitating afflictions such as these can be when any one of the three discuss their disorders, their dreams, or their downfalls in detail. It’s a difficult line to walk (the sweet-spot between comedy and drama, which doesn’t poke fun, or become preachy) but one which The Road Within traverses with ease.

We do get a little bit of a ‘message movie’ vibe; particularly as the entire journey for Vincent’s father is about finally coming to terms with who his son is, not who he wanted him to be (yet Robert Patrick gives such a fantastic performance it transcends the script’s clichés and makes you actually think how these disorders can affect the families of the afflicted); yet it’s great to see a film which promotes understanding, but is never condescending.

It’s well acted from start to finish, and our three up-and-coming stars all give excellent performances; Dev Patel’s portrayal of the obsessive Alex can be a little kitsch and cartoony sometimes, but it’s consistently believable and often extremely sad to see what he’s going through. Likewise Zoë Kravitz gives an excellent multi-layered performance as Marie (does she or doesn’t she want to get better?), and Robert Sheehan is not only so good as Tourette’s-sufferer Vincent you’d be forgiven for thinking he actually has the syndrome in real-life, but can really make you feel for character and the daily struggles he faces.

Kyra Sedgwick is also well placed as the caring Doctor Mia (appearing to genuinely worry about her patients and hope for the best with them), but it’s Robert Patrick who really shines here. Patrick gives the performance of his career, and shows us what a strong actor he can be as his character’s defensive walls are broken down, and he’s forced to confront not only his son’s afflictions but his own reactions towards them (after already excelling as the disinterested/resentful father). A great performance, and one amongst a film filled with solid acting throughout.

Road Within 02 Robert Patrick

Wells’ script is a little formulaic, predictable, and clichéd; we have the expected revelations, monologues, breakdowns, group ups-and-downs, and a big fallout before the emotional conclusion; yet it’s well shot, a great watch, and as fun as it is uplifting.

The Road Within isn’t about these people getting ‘better’, it’s about everyone coming to terms with who they are, and while there is an inherent comedic element when covering afflictions such as Tourette’s and OCD, The Road Within never pokes fun at its subjects, instead we’re given a real look at who these people are and how they’re viewed by society. Thankfully, through little victories (eating a sandwich, completing a sentence, and shaking hands), and constant wind-ups, we also get to laugh along with the protagonists and thoroughly enjoy The Road Within; an extremely heartfelt indie film which has a boot-full of comedy, some great acting from three up-and-coming stars, a full tank of emotion, and a worthwhile meaning.

The Road Within is available now via a number of digital platforms (iTunes, Google Play, Blinkbox, etc.) though sadly, as it’s being released in the UK as a digital exclusive, anyone looking for a physical copy will have to take the import option. Either way, it’s a brilliant film, one thoroughly worth the price of a digital copy, and (for those who don’t do digital) it’s certainly worth seeking out when it eventually hits a service such as Netflix.

Matt Wheeldon@TheMattWheeldon.

Verdict Ratings 08
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