Tuesday 14 June 2022

Hit the Road [2021]

 Panah Panahi proved that he’s his father’s son in his debut film Hit the Road. Even if it’ll take him some time to fill the great Jafar Panahi’s shoes and emulate his voice – and it did feel slight and tad unmoored on occasions, and the cuteness went overboard at times – this charming, effervescent, and funny road movie – a quintessential American genre that, ironically, has paved way for a number of Iranian gems too – displayed in no uncertain terms Panahi Jr.’s storytelling mettle, willingness to use narrative as a springboard rather than an end in itself, and – like his defiant father who’s never tempered his dissent nor his distinctive chuckle – the gall and temerity to tackle politically uncomfortable topics, albeit under the guise of a playful and unassuming exterior, that may not please the authorities. Gray-haired vivacious mom (Pantea Panahiha), gruff but adorable father (Hassan Madjooni) with a broken leg in cast, brooding and taciturn elder son (Amin Simiar), and one of the most energetic, precocious and chatty 6-year-old kids (Rayan Sarlak) imaginable, are on a cross-country road trip in their old and dusty station wagon. They drive, sing, smoke, argue, fight, reflect, reminisce and bond as part of their seemingly aimless journey – through some stunning and excellently photographed Iranian landscapes – while the real reason for their trip, and therefore their possible destination, gradually emerge. That, in turn, provided context to the interpersonal undercurrents that were regularly alluded to until the disclosures happened, and which added interesting emotional dynamics to this tender, bittersweet and featherweight comedy. There were a few interesting asides too, especially a hilarious one involving a motorcyclist who’s compelled to take a brief ride with the family.

Director: Panah Panahi

Genre: Drama/Road Movie

Language: Persian

Country: Iran

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