Plenty of road left.
The Leisure Seeker is coming to Kinokulture Cinema next week, continuing a tradition of American road movies about as long as Route 66 itself. Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland star as an aging couple who decide to make the journey from Boston to the home of Ernest Hemingway in Key West, travelling in their run down Leisure Seeker van of the title.
The enduring appeal of the road movie lies in that inherent sense of adventure and escape (where the journey is often as important as the destination) and of encountering the unknown. By their very nature road movies have an episodic structure, each stop along the route like a chapter of a novel.
American road movies can be used as a canvas on which to tell a multitude of stories. Crime is often involved; whether it’s people running from the law like Thelma and Louise (1991), or a on a crime spree – think of Bonnie and Clyde (1967) or Badlands (1973). Sometimes it’s about the desperate attempt to reach a destination, like poor Steve Martin trying to get home in Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) or about the need to escape and in the process ‘find’ yourself like Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider (1969).
If road movies have anything in common it’s the bonding of characters when thrown together on isolation of the road. Estranged brothers connect (Rain Man 1988) and dysfunctional families discover the ties that bind them together (Little Miss Sunshine 2006).
Perhaps at the end of the day that’s why road movies remain so prolific; because no matter how pretty the scenery going by, ultimately they are stories about people. The drama of human life never grows old.
By Tom Brookes
From our weekly column in the Oswestry Advertizer, published on 5th June 2018.