I imagine heading to a studio with a script about a man with Tourette’s, another with OCD and a woman with an eating disorder is going to be a hard sell. Getting that film made and then distributed is probably even more difficult. Gren Wells managed just that with The Road Within.
First time director but writer of A Little Bit of Heaven, Gren Wells tackles these difficult subjects in her new film The Road Within. The story sees Vincent, played superbly by Robert Sheehan (Misfits, Season of the Witch), a Tourette suffering young man, head out on a road trip with an OCD sufferer Alex, played brilliantly by Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, Chappie), and eating disorder sufferer Marie, played by Zoe Kravitz, daughter of Lenny, (Divergent, Mad Max: Fury Road).
At the start we learn that Vincent’s mother has recently passed away and his father Robert, played by Robert Patrick, doesn’t really know what to do with him so puts him in an experimental treatment centre headed by Dr. Mia Rose, played by Kyra Sedgwick (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Gamer), where he meets his roommate Alex and later Marie.
The story is one of discovery, each character goes on their own journey, not exactly getting cured along the way – which is a good thing – but discovering more about themselves and their illnesses. The emotions don’t quite reach the heights you may expect, because the comedic moments are never too far away, but everything is handled in good taste. Nothing is over the top or hammy.
The standout thing throughout this movie are the performances. Sheehan handles the Tourette’s superbly. He doesn’t go overboard and, whilst some of what he says is funny, the way he handles it shows you that to him, it’s no laughing matter. Dev Patel is outstanding as the OCD suffering Alex. Continuously cleaning, opening and closing doors, switching on and off lights a set number of times, again, sometimes it’s amusing but the anguish on the face tells you it’s not for him.
Robert Patrick as Vincent’s father also does brilliantly, he himself goes on an emotional journey and he handles the changing emotions with aplomb. It took me a while to stop seeing the T-1000 that Patrick is so known for but that’s just me. Zoe Kravitz does well as Marie, as does Kyra Sedgwick, it’s a little harder to say they were standout performances just because they don’t really have the same challenging roles as the others.
I haven’t seen the original German movie this one is a remake of, Vincent Wants to Sea, but from the little I know of it, Wells has handled the transition well, even keeping the Saab the trio initially steal.
Whilst the story can feel a little familiar, it doesn’t take away from a lovely piece of cinema with some truly outstanding performances from its young cast. Wells can be more than happy with her directorial debut.