Screenwriter, Director, & Senior Lecturer, Dartmouth Film & Media Studies
Making a perfect gem of a film is nearly impossible.
Most people know that making any film is a lot of work. Making a perfect gem of a film is nearly impossible. The further it plays, the higher are the odds that something is going to go wrong: a bad music cue, a stretch of credibility, the weak bobble of a performance, a mismatched edit because the right material just didn’t exist… there are hundreds of things to get right and all it takes is one little stumble to pull an audience out of a story.
THRASHER ROAD pulls everything off without a false moment… hard to do in any movie but nearly impossible to achieve in a low budget film where the filmmaker doesn’t have unlimited funds to buy off problems as they arise. Even better, and harder to achieve in any size movie, is that rarity known as dramatic unity… where everything is there for a reason, it all contributes to the rest of the film and it leaves you emotionally touched.
All technical aspects of this film are strong: Eric Leaach’s cinematography, Karen Smalley’s editing, Chanda Dancy-Morizawa score, with additional music by Joe Rogers,Elli Scarr & Pete Sinjin, complement the extraordinary cast.
When every actor provides a sublime performance, there’s more going on than just excellent acting. Someone had to tie these disparate characters together. Directing is often an invisible art, but it takes a sophisticated (or unbelievably lucky) director to weave a tapestry where none of the seams show. Samantha Davidson Green succeeded in that.
In a film where every actor deserves recognition, the two leads (Christian Kohn as Mack and Allison Fay Brown as Chloe) bring special strength to their parts. The film resonates because each of them provides a character arc that you don’t see coming. No spoiler alerts here, but neither one ends up where you’d expect them to be at the end of the film, yet when you look back at it all, their actions are inevitable. That’s also good writing. It sneaks up on you and before you know it, you’re looking for a handkerchief.
THRASHER ROAD is a small story, but its implications for a universal understanding of human behavior reach out and grab you. It’s 86 minutes of pathos and comedy, but it isn’t fast food. It leaves you satisfied that sometimes life, as hard as it can often be, can make sense.
Actress, Director + Oxford Film Festival Programmer
I knew it should be on the line-up immediately after watching.
I was honored to program "Thrasher Road" as one of the feature films showing at the Oxford Film Festival in 2019. It was one of the first films I watched for the festival and I knew it should be on the line-up immediately after watching. I was struck by the film's acting, cinematography (shot on film!) and honesty in the portrayal of a complicated father/daughter relationship. What I truly appreciated about the film was that the characters didn't act as though they were written in a cookie-cutter, do-what-you'd-expect-because-this-is-a-film kind of way. They did what's true to life, no matter how challenging the consequences, which kept me engaged and caring deeply about them for the entire film.
Kohn is a revelation as Mac, slowly peeling away layers of insecurity, with only his unreliable charm and surprising sensitivity to save him from some questionable choices.
At the heart of every road movie is a couple of lost souls trying to find that person or place that they can call home. Perhaps the fact that their journey seems bound to fall apart at any moment is what makes these stories so appealing to independent filmmakers, who must feel that their films are equally vulnerable to the whims of fate. Samantha Davidson Green’s Thrasher Road can’t help but take you on the emotional roller coaster that must have taken place behind the camera while shooting a Super 16 mm film on location from California to Mississippi to Vermont in unreliable vehicles traveling forgotten highways.
When very pregnant Chloe (Allison Brown) is inexplicably abandoned by her musician-boyfriend, she leaves Los Angeles with her geriatric dog Thrasher in tow, hoping to silently slink all the way back to Vermont in her old clunker. After a near-accident awakens her to the foolishness of this plan, Chloe calls her mother asking for help. Instead, rescue comes in the unwelcome form of her long-estranged father, Mac (Christian Kohn). Stuck together in a car with thousands of miles ahead of them and thirteen years of unspoken regret behind them, father and daughter just begin to reconnect when fate reliably intervenes to test the resolve of both.
While Brown hits her notes perfectly as the stronger-than-she-looks daughter-in-distress, Kohn is a revelation as Mac, slowly peeling away layers of insecurity, with only his unreliable charm and surprising sensitivity to save him from some questionable choices.
The easy humor, lived-in emotions and scenic locations all move this breezy 86 minute film along, and though it has to contend with the limited resources common to most independent features, the depth of the characters keep you from noticing the bumps along the way.
Writer/director Green has a few neat tricks up her sleeve as this bighearted road trip takes a few unexpected detours, and even better, she wisely saves her best surprise for the end.