Movie Review: "The Road"

John Thomas

The Keystone Cops in bumper cars. Driving habits vary throughout the world, but after seeing Dmitrii Kalashnikov’s The Road Movie, one would wonder if there are driving schools or any automobile insurance to be had in Russia – let alone what the costs might be. Collecting hundreds of dash cam (dashboard cameras) footage posted on the Russian internet, Dmitrii chose those segments that he felt would best support his vision of the film.

There are no actors or script involved, no special lighting or sound effects, simply the exterior visions by the cam recorders through windshields, the accompanying conversations of the passengers, and the occasional crunching of metal or shattering of glass.

The film is a roller coaster ride from hell! Speed seems to be an essential part of driving in Russia, regardless of the weather conditions, visibility, time of day or the suitability of the driver. As seen from one cam, a car passes another vehicle, then slips sideways, bounces off of a guard rail into three other cars and then into a passing truck that then turns on its side and slides into two more cars before bursting into flames.

Then there is the recording made during a forest fire – no visibility, but that doesn’t make the driver more cautious or the passenger more concerned. There is another scene of a bear running down the road “pooing” along the way.

We see prostitutes soliciting drivers stalled in traffic. A car traveling too fast for a sharp curve in the road, crashes through a guard rail and begins sinking into a river, all the while the passengers are bantering back and forth using most of the profanity known to humankind.

There are attempted robberies, break-ins, crazy people jumping onto car hoods, even the footage from a police car in pursuit of an ancient Skoda speeding through city streets. While chasing this ancient red car, the police call for backup, suggesting that the other police throw something at the car to make it stop – the speeding car escapes.

Are buses exempt from these traffic catastrophes? Of course not, they fly around or turn over in comic style, as do streetcars and emergency vehicles. They all seem to flip around, upside down and take to the air in a split second – all recorded on their dash cams or cams from nearby vehicles.

The narration does mention that the attacks on drivers by stray hooligans have dropped significantly since these cams have been installed in automobiles. I suppose a motorist could still be attacked from behind though.

  • 67 Minutes
  • hotDOCS Canadian International Documentary Festival.  Toronto, Canada.
  • Director: Dmitrii Kalashnikov,  Russia + others


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