MOVIE REVIEW: Road trip captures father-son relationship
A FROSTY father-son relationship thaws on a cross-country road trip in the film Kodachrome.
The second feature film from director Mark Raso, the drama - which is getting a cinematic release in Australia and an overseas release on Netflix - centres on New York-based music executive Matt Ryder (Jason Sudeikis).
When we first meet Matt, he's having a rough trot. He arrives at a gig to find out he's just lost rocker Elijah to Interscope Records. The next morning he nearly gets fired and, just minutes later, finds out his dad is dying from liver cancer.
That should be devastating news, but there's clearly a lot of baggage in his family. Matt can't usher his dad's nurse/personal assistant Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen), the bearer of the bad news, to the lift fast enough.
But the gravity of the situation finally sinks in and he agrees to go see his dear old dad Ben (Ed Harris), who wants him to drive him halfway across the US to Kansas where Kodak's last Kodachrome photo lab - anywhere in the world - is about to close.
It's the last chance for the famous photographer, who spent more time with his camera than his own family, to get four last rolls of film developed.
For a man who's sick, Ben is not taking his cancer diagnosis lying down. When viewers first meet him, he's bashing away on a drum kit. A love of music is at least one thing he and his son have in common.
His reunion with Matt, who refuses to call him Dad, is anything but warm and cuddly. As they sit down to dinner with Zoe and Ben's long-time manager Larry, small talk gives way to a verbal grudge match.
"I'm dying; I don't have time to behave," Ben says.
Matt counters: "You were a prick long before you had the cancer."
Even though she's decades their junior, Zoe acts as the referee.
Baited by Larry's promise to set up a meeting with the hot band that would salvage his career - and an urge to see if Ben is "the colossal bastard" he's hated for most of his life - Matt begrudgingly agrees to go on the road trip with his dad and Zoe.
Cruising along the scenic route in Ben's old red convertible, the time in close quarters has its expected effect on the trio. They each let down their guards, before retreating back behind their walls again.
While there's a chemistry between Zoe and Matt, it's Matt and Ben's relationship that's in focus here.
Sudeikis and Harris have great chemistry. Best known for his comedic roles in films like Horrible Bosses and We're The Millers, Sudeikis does dark and brooding quite well.
Harris brings out the best in him, and his performance saves a somewhat thin premise.
Based on the real-life closure of Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas, as detailed in the New York Times article For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas, the film celebrates the power of photography and is, fittingly, shot on 35mm Kodak film.
Those of us old enough to remember and have used film cameras will appreciate Ben's observation that even though technology has made photography more accessible, it's also made those billions of images snapped around the world each day disposable - "digital dust" in the grand scheme of things.
The film has a great soundtrack featuring Agatha Kaspar, Indians, Graham Nash, Galazie 500 and, strangely, Live.
Kodachrome isn't going to set the world on fire, but it's an above-par family drama that avoids more cliches than it hits.
Kodachrome is in cinemas from June 7.
Stars: Ed Harris, Jason Sudeikis, Elizabeth Olsen, Bruce Greenwood, Gethin Anthony, Dennis Haysbert.
Director: Mark Raso
Verdict: 3 stars