The Short History of the Long Road

Though this is a very even and I would go as far as saying, calm film there are twists and turns to be found. Nothing about the film goes in the direction you think it might. That is because Ani Simon-Kennedy’s (Days of Gray) film, like her subjects, does not take the most obvious path ever.

A father and his teenage daughter are criss crossing the United States in an old van they have dubbed the Hulk. Clint (Steven Ogg – from television’s Snowpiercer) and Nola (Sabrina Carpenter – The Hate U Give, Tall Girl) are best friends. Actually the only friends they have as they move on from place to place so often that they are not able to have any relationships other than with each other. Clint supports this unique way of life by doing odd jobs for people whenever he can.

After something upexpected happens, Nola finds herself on her own. Without much money she lives by her wits. That is until the Hulk breaks down in a small town in New Mexico. The repairs are going to be costly, so she wears down Miguel (Danny Trejo – Heat, Machete), the owner of the garage, until he agrees she can work off the cost of the repairs by doing odd jobs around the garage.

While there she not only becomes close to Miguel, but also to a young girl who hangs around the garage. Blue (Jashaun St. John – Songs My Brothers Taught Me) encourages Nola to locate her mother. A mother she has never really met. When she finally finds her (Maggie Siff – from television’s Billions), Nola begins to ponder a different sort of life.

A coming of age story you could have never predicted. While the story is filled with heart and emotion it does not use a map along its journey. Seemingly rambling about without a destination in mind at the end of the film you realize you have traveled somewhere. Without realizing it, Simon-Kennedy knew which direction she was going in all along.

A young woman who is faced with supporting herself financially and emotionally in life. Living a life off the grid. And being fulfilled while doing so. Rather radical an idea in this part of the world where capitalism and consumerism rules. Yet, the way it is portrayed here (though it is not without its down moments and hills to climb), living a different type of life, a life of complete independence, does not look so bad.

The young woman in question is portrayed by Sabrina Carpenter. Now, I have heard of her, know she is a singer and actress, but never seen her act really before. Colour me surprised as she shows her mettle here in a film in which she is in pretty much every frame of. The film is to fail or succeed largely on her performance and she shoulders that burden well. It is a genuine portrayal in which she uses her eyes often to tell her character’s story.

Her supporting cast also lends a hand with their strong performances. The men, Trejo and Ogg, are good while in her short time on screen Maggie Siff, as Nola’s mother, shows again that she is good in whatever role she takes on.

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