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"Roads Not Taken" - Film Review

by Emilia Ippolito
Sally Potter’s most recent indie film has an extremely ‘simple’ plot. It tells the story of Leo, a Mexican writer (Xavier Bardem, of course ) in NYC: now a naturalised American citizen, he suffers from dementia.
He spends his days recollecting his multifarious past made of multiple relations (two marriages: with Dolores: Salma Hayeck and Rita: Laura Linney), two children- one lost and Molly, a young woman (excellent Elle Fanning) who is desperately trying to help her estranged father and trying to keep her job in the buzzy US city. A non American carer and a couple of medical specialists - not very sympathetic of his condition and rather puzzled by his daughter’s emotional expectations, complete cast and picture, with occasional, disastrous trips to their surgeries
The script is too sparse and repetitive, limiting the cast and their good acting; strong, powerful emotions are only partially conveyed; however, that’s an advantage considering the film’s targets and expectations. Clearly, the protagonist is getting closer to the end of his life, and this is no ‘miracle, feel-good’ story. It’s rather a reminder of what people affected by this terrible disease and their families - if they have one - go through.
It also shows what Leo’s self-absorption and obsession with writing and a hedonistic, pretty off-track life may have caused on a social, emotional and financial level. Whether we like it or not, this has a strong impact on his mature unhealthy condition with a domino effect on his next of kin.
Lots of hidden messages, if you want to detect them. This is not a light ride: I would suggest to go if you’re in high spirits and not too affected by emotionally heavy images. I hope Potter choses a more optimistic path for future features : surely it’d be appreciated in post-COVID times.



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