• Review: Road to the Well (2016)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Fri Feb 10 11:21:54 2017
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: Two friends, recently reunited after years
    apart, take a road trip to bury a dead woman, currently
    in the trunk of their car. On the way they come across
    some really unpleasant people and obstacles to overcome
    in their dubious mission. The plot moves slowly enough
    for ROAD TO THE WELL to qualify for mumblecore. Later
    it picks up a little. But writer/director Jon Cvack
    does not try to rush it. This is a thriller and it has
    some thrills, but it needed more, and they needed to be
    introduced earlier. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

    Frank, played by Laurence Fuller, is in a soul-crushing job
    somewhere around Las Angeles. Privately he hates his job and he
    hates his boss. Frank's boss has decided to send Frank to the
    unpleasant northern branch. Frank is not happy about the
    relocation but does not have the spine to refuse, even after he
    finds his wife and boss in bed together. Frank knows he wants some
    kind of change in his life. But arriving on the scene is Jack
    (Micah Parker), Frank's old friend. With a bit of a pep talk Frank
    is having sex with an attractive woman, Ruby. But wouldn't you
    know it, while Frank and Ruby are having sex in the parking lot
    someone kills Ruby. Frank would be an obvious suspect for the

    Jack suggests that Frank bury the corpse himself somewhere up
    north, accepting Frank's relocation north. Then the woman will
    seem to have just disappeared, and nobody will look for Frank.
    Jack and Frank begin a macabre road trio north to take Frank to his
    new job, to see some old friends, and to dispose of the body. That
    is an absurd situation that might have been the basis for more
    humor. Somehow the humor of the situation is just not there.
    Writer/director Jon Cvack creates mostly unpleasant characters.
    That approach can work from some writers. Here it gets a little
    tiresome in the early parts of the film.

    If the story was handled with a little more comic verve and
    perceptive observations of its characters, this ROAD TO THE
    WELL has the makings of a reasonable comedy. Instead it meanders
    and risks the viewers' frustration. The story takes too long to
    get going and then is short on action. It meanders along slow and
    a little overly talky. Eventually we get to know both Frank and
    Jack somewhat better, but that just makes the talk a little more
    interesting. It is no substitute for action or suspense. Laurence
    Fuller remains a sort of empty character throughout and we get the
    feeling that Jack is a bit shifty. But neither really pulls the
    viewer into their characters. On the other hand Marshall R. Teague
    takes acting honors as Dale, an intense character who is ex-
    military and whom the boys run up against late in the film.

    If this film had been wound a little tighter, with maybe the
    dramatic tension of a BLOOD SIMPLE, the film would have worked.
    And as more of a comedy it might have worked. At times, mostly
    near the end, there are moments of tension, especially those
    involving Dale who plays cat and mouse with Frank and Jack. The
    North California scenery is a nice bonus and well shot. But the
    film could have stood to be more tersely edited rather than dragged
    out to 108 minutes. Somehow it needed more crackle. I rate it a
    high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.

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    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper

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