Detour

"Excellent"

Detour Review


This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith (Severance) takes a bracingly inventive approach to telling the story. The result is a film that pulls us in and challenges us with ideas and emotions that are deeply resonant, even as the plot builds a gripping sense of tension. And in addition to the twisty, tricky filmmaking style, the performances carry a striking emotional kick.

It opens in Los Angeles, where law student Harper (Tye Sheridan) is convinced that his stepfather Vincent (Stephen Moyer) is a monster. Not only might be be responsible for the car crash that put Harper's mother in a coma, but he's planning a dirty weekend in Las Vegas with a waitress. Then as Harper hatches a plan to do something about this, he meets the mercurial thug Johnny (Emory Cohen), and convinces him to drive to Nevada with him to give Vincent the comeuppance he deserves. But their trip is complicated when Johnny brings his stripper girlfriend Cherry (Bel Powley) along, especially since Harper is clearly smitten. And while all of this is happening, Harper is imagining how he might also handle this on his own.

These flickering internalised scenes give the film a kind of Sliding Doors-style tone, showing both what is and what might have been. But Smith has a surprise in store in the way he brings these strands together, redefining both the plot and the characters to pull us in even more deeply. It helps that the three central actors deliver hugely compelling performances. In another riveting turn, Sheridan anchors the film with a beautifully layered performance that's powerfully sympathetic even when Harper does something nasty. Cohen is also terrific in a flashier role as the charismatic hothead, while Powley cleverly holds back to bring out Cherry's more intriguing angles later in the story.

Shot mainly in South Africa, the film looks terrific, capturing the dusty feel of the American Southwest populated by surprising side characters like John Lynch's vicious gangster, Jared Abrahamson's dimwitted pothead and Gbenga Akinnagbe's swaggering cop. But Smith keeps the focus tightly on these three lost souls travelling across the desert together on a mission none of them can properly define as they worry about making their next move. There's not much more to it than that, but the clever filmmaking keeps it provocative and memorable. And the underlying themes are brought to vivid life by these excellent young actors who are definitely worth keeping an eye on.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Production compaines: Head Gear Films, Kreo Films FZ, Bankside Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Producer: , Phil Hunt, Stephen Kelliher, Jason Newmark, Compton Ross

Starring: as Harper, as Cherry, as Johnny Ray, as Vincent, as Frank, as Michael

Contactmusic

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