Hit the Road

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

5/5 (1)

From Panah Panahi, “Hit the Road” is a quirky and sardonic road movie set in Iran. Quick-witted and colorful with plenty of barbs, the story is both melancholic and surprising.

A middle aged family of four consisting of a young hyperactive and glib son (Rayan Sarlak), a weary mother (Pantea Panahiha), a morose adult son (Amin Simiar), and a grouchy husband (Hassan Madjooni) with an excruciating toothache and a broken leg, pile into an SUV to escape persecution.

The child is a relentless chatterbox, tirelessly talking away playing word games with himself while the adults argue and bicker. There is also a cute dog with a terminal condition.

In other directorial hands, such gravity with three argumentative characters, a kid and a sick dog in a barren landscape might be insufferable, but Panahi knows how to balance all the elements with humor and pathos.

The family faces one thing after another from nosy onlookers, an injured racer and an intimidating sheep seller, to a sinister masked man.

From the very start, one never knows what will happen next to this family beset with one problem after the other.
After the young kid smuggles a cell phone it becomes clear that the older son is driving the family across the border to escape the oppressive regime.

The scene with the hassled bike racer who worships Lance Armstrong borders the madcap and will remind some of Monty Python.

Despite the comically absurd touches, when several members wait for assistance that may or may not arrive, one begins to really feel for the family with the gravity of a drama.

There is one moment in particular, depicting a man coming out of the fog that is quite sinister.

With endless fields in front of them edged by large forbidding mountains like the teeth of a giant, a claustrophobia mounts reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick. The film “2001” is referenced twice.

Oddly, the more anxious things become, the more energetic and festive the young child appears dancing to a pop song. One wonders if he is possessed.

“Hit the Road” is a one of a kind experience. While the tense yet strangely lethargic instances coupled with offhand humor might try one’s patience, the landscape has a poetry all of its own with one boy perpetually spinning within—a whirling dervish like no other.

Ratings & Comments