The Road Within – Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)

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Overview

Three mental illness patients go on a road trip which pushes them to discover what it may take for them to take a few steps toward getting better.

Director: Gren Wells
Writer:
Gren Wells

Trigger Warning(s): Depiction of Mental Illness (Tourette syndrome, Anorexia, and OCD)

Review (with Spoilers) – Below

Characters & Story

With his father having a city council race, and his mother dead, Vincent (Robert Sheehan) is sent to go to a mental health clinic. A place in which he meets his roommate Alex (Dev Patel) who has OCD, and then Marie (Zoe Kravitz) who has an eating disorder. As for Vincent? He has Tourette’s to the point driving, going to his mom’s funeral, and interacting with people, leads to the word “Cunt” on multiple occasions.

One day, though, after Marie is given some frightful news, she decides she wants to leave and steals the counselor’s car to do so. Thus leading to Alex, by force, and Vincent, who chooses the destination, to go on a road trip. One which helps them make progress in getting the lives they once dreamed of having, though not without quite a bit of difficulty.

Praise

A film featuring mental illnesses, which is labeled as a comedy, naturally raises red flags. After all, between Tourette’s and OCD, there are a lot of inappropriate jokes and situations that can happen. However, thanks to either the writing talents of Wells or Patel and Sheehan, though you maybe laughing at the characters at times, at the same time you’ll feel quite guilty over it.

This is mostly due to both, as well as Kravitz, presenting each character’s situation with both comedy, and a sense of realness. So just as much as you are laughing at the inappropriate things that come out of Vincent’s mouth, the script reminds you that it isn’t all fun and games for him. For between what Robert (Robert Patrick), Vincent’s father, tells us, and what Vincent says himself, you are reminded that what he deals with maybe funny to strangers, but personally is a sometimes socially depilating struggle. Something Patel’s character also shows.

Criticism

When it comes to Kravitz’s character, I must admit I feel that as much as she was part of the catalyst which got the movie going, she wasn’t given the same opportunities to make Marie a deep character. For while Kravitz makes her lovable, and presents her usual flair for odd Black girl characters, there are times when it is hard to say whether her character evolved past being a love interest, and actually became a fully-fledged character who could stand on her own.

The so-so handling of Marie aside, I do feel that the combination of Dr. Rose (Kyra Sedgwick) and Robert was less hit and miss and pretty much obligatory. Which I say due to Robert beginning the movie as an asshole, and then, thanks to Dr. Mia, slowly realizing how mean and cruel he was to his son. Albeit for reasons maybe only a father could understand, but something about it all just seemed to lack the complications it deserved. Like, I get that seeing his child’s potential being impeded is part of the reason for his cruelty, but something about Patrick’s performance, and the way Sedgwick’s character opens him up to realizing the type of father he is, doesn’t seem natural. If anything, it seems, as noted, as an obligatory part in crafting a happy ending for our lead character.

Overall: TV Viewing

While the three lead characters continue to remind you why they are some of the biggest up and comers of this generation, this film doesn’t fully utilize their talents equally. For while Sheehan is giving much to do, and Patel to a certain degree, it is hard to firmly say that Kravitz isn’t slowly becoming the token Black girl for low budget films. Which isn’t to say her presence is unwelcomed, or she is undeserving of work, but more so that she is cast more so to be seen, be cute, and do a few lines, than given the type of meaty character which you can fall in love with for more than their flirtatious ways.

Anyway, combine that issue with Patrick and Sedgwick having the most contrived characters and story, and you get a TV Viewing label.

Questions, Comments, or Opposing Opinion?