A Primal Character Study of Resentment Under a Blazing Sun in Scenic Route


Sometimes a wide-open space can serve the same function as a locked room. When their truck breaks down in the middle of the desert, two old friends who’ve drifted apart are forced to confront each other on a more honest—and eventually primal—level. Mitchell (Josh Duhamel) is a handsome middle-manager type, a guy who sold his guitar, bought a suit, and settled down. Carter (Dan Fogler), a schlubby, devil-may-care unsuccessful writer, uses the moment to upbraid Mitchell for abandoning his dreams and marrying the wrong woman. Kyle Killen’s screenplay seems perfectly suited to a black-box theater—a two-man character study beyond the reach of civilization. The isolation and the elements wear at them both; they burn the bridges between them, tentatively rebuild them, then send them blazing back to the ground. A flash-forward at the film’s beginning reveals a glimpse of violence; we see the trajectory of the men’s relationship before they do. Kevin and Michael Goetz’s direction emphasizes the remoteness of the setting. The howl of the desert wind and the unflagging hammer of the sun are the backdrop for every bad decision, lending them a plausibility they wouldn’t have in comfort.