The American film “Desperation Road” is currently being shown, starring Mel Gibson, Willa Fitzgerald, Garrett Hedlund, and Reign Hurst. It was directed by Nadine Crocker in her second film. It is adapted from a novel of the same name, written by Michael Farris Smith, and he himself turned it into a cinematic screenplay.
“Despair Road” belongs to thriller, suspense, and action films, and it achieved great acceptance among viewers, who rated it at a rate of 89% on the Rotten Tomatoes website, while critics rated it at 67%.
A story from the American South
The events of “Despair Road” take place in the southern states of America, specifically Mississippi, and begin with the young woman “Mabin” and her daughter “Analie”, who move between small towns and counties on foot, and they appear exhausted, hungry, and signs of poverty, from shabby clothes to small, unresolved dreams. You can dream of other things, such as finding a roof on a house, or not having to travel long distances.
Mabin (played by actress Willa Fitzgerald) is attacked by a corrupt police officer and is forced to kill him. She begins a more difficult journey with her daughter, during which she tries to escape not only from poverty, but also from the police searching for the killer.
On the other hand, the film follows “Russell” (played by actor Garrett Hedlund), a young white man recently released from prison, and he is beaten by two people who seem to have a great grudge against him and represent a threat to his life.
In the surroundings of the small town, the two dramatic lines of Mabin and her daughter meet with Russell, and they discover that there is much in common between them.
The American South is a region that has a special character in the United States. Unlike the northern states, which live a fast-paced lifestyle, whose economy depends on multinational companies, and enjoy all the aspects of Western civilization, their southern counterparts seem as if they are still living in the past, with a lifestyle. Simpler and poorer.
Mostly in films about the “American South” they place it in narrow molds. For example, he presents in works that deal with racism or discrimination against immigrants, but the film “Despair Road” sheds light from a different angle, as it approaches low-income people who live on the margins of society without regard to the color of their skin or their affiliation.
Ben, Russell, and his father, Mitchell, do not have significant financial resources. The former lives on social assistance, the latter worked as a house painter before entering prison, while the third lives on a poor farm outside the city.
The film deals with the impact of economic conditions on American society with great sensitivity, and monitors that dry life that generates violence and crime. The creators of the work look compassionately at its heroes who commit crimes motivated more by helplessness than evil, and give them second chances.
Action and love
The film belongs to the genre of action and suspense, a genre due to which Mel Gibson achieved great success previously in films such as “Lethal Weapon” and “We Were Soldiers,” but although “Despair Road” begins… Its story of murder, which consists entirely of various violent scenes and gunshots, does not look like popular action films, especially in terms of cinematography and calm rhythm.
The film was shot by C. Turnbull, and from its first moments we notice his interest in the nature of the American South, such as the wide lands with its trees and grass, and the small lake overlooked by the house of “Mitchell,” Russell’s father, with the use of natural sunlight, and the contrast of this ideal world appears with scenes The night in which the heroine was assaulted.
The slow camera movement imposed a calm rhythm on the film, which is unusual in action films that rely heavily on rapid camera movement and short scenes, while “Despair Road” takes time in revealing its plot and the connections that bring the characters together.
The melancholy-filled soundtrack played its role in creating a transparent veil of sadness that pushes the viewer to sympathize with the heroes, and the use of voiceover from the characters “Russell” and “Mabin” also came to play a role that seemed to be a bridge linking the feelings of the viewer and the two heroes of the work.
Mitchell (portrayed by Mel Gibson) only carried his gun once in “Despair Road”, to save his son “Russell” from death, which may disappoint some viewers, after they expected a violent movie as a result of the promotional images. But this frustration turned into admiration after looking at Gibson’s distinctive performance, in contrast to his recent works in which it seemed as if he had lost his old magic.
The characters of Russell and Mabin reflect the despair felt by a large segment of humanity, due to feelings of guilt as a result of the crime he committed, which led to his imprisonment and the loss of his childhood sweetheart, or due to the lack of help towards the injustice done to her, while Gibson conveys love and faith.
Michel lost his wife, and his only son (7 years old) was imprisoned, but he did not let despair creep into his soul. Rather, he resisted it when he helped a weak immigrant woman. Then he became a grandfather to Mabin’s daughter, supporting his son and understanding his anxious feelings.
Ambiguity prevailed in the first half of the film “Despair Road”. The script revealed only a little of the characters’ past, and there was relatively little dialogue that explained their feelings, but the film’s director replaced the words with the performances of the actors, whose eyes embodied everything that was hidden in their characters, and it was equal to that. The film stars Mel Gibson, Willa Fitzgerald, and Garrett Hedlund.
The film “Despair Road” cannot be classified as “pure action.” It is also a thriller and mystery film that uses cinema to shed light on the lives of people on the margins, not only in the United States, but among all humanity.