Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Down the Road Again

(Don Shebib, 2011)
Shebib's belated "Goin' Down the Road" sequel is heartfelt and honest, but that doesn't mean it's any good; its elegiac tale of mortality is tragically bereft of craft. The first half of the film is a wistful epitaph for the long-gone Paul Bradley, and there's no there there; the flashbacks and exhumations from the original fail to find any semblance of form or focus. The East Coast sequence cedes some ground to original characters and present situations, but only glimmers of poignancy survive the overwhelming air of contrivance. The skeletal narrative taxes credibility in outline and pulverizes it in execution, with way too many unmotivated leaps in character development. None of Shebib's artistic strengths shine through; his dialogue, once so full of wit and surprise, is leaden and literal, and the direction shows no trace of the spontaneity and open space that used to breathe life into his languid intimacy. Kathleen Robertson's Betty-Jo is the invention of a man who can't recall the distinction between 40 and 25, and the sympathy and charm of the cast as a whole is left to wither and die.

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