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Passenger Side

February 16, 2013

Cinequest 2010


PASSENGER SIDE is the first film from Cinequest 20 that had me clapping when it was over, with a little tear in my eye.

It’s a twist on a road trip movie, as 95% of the film is spent driving in the car, but they don’t really ever leave Los Angeles (except for a quick trip through the desert).  It is Michael’s birthday, but it appears that everyone has forgotten it.  His estranged, (supposed) formerly drug-addicted brother asks him to drive him around on errands all day, but it is soon clear that these trips are not just to the post office and dry cleaners.  Michael thinks his brother Tobey must be chasing a new drug lead, but Tobey insists they are not.  Along the way they meet all sorts of on-the-fringe oddballs, and throughout the day Michael tries unsuccessfully to contact his girlfriend so they can make birthday plans.

This film is less about driving than it is about talking.  The two characters keep up a running banter with each other which is quite witty, though at times tedious.  Their constant quick witted joking shows that both brothers, though losers according to social norms, are actually very intelligent and have a deep bond with each other that has been tested by life’s obstacles.  I was quickly fascinated by their conversation, then somewhat annoyed for a few minutes…  but when it became obvious that this is what the film was about (and done very well), I settled in and enjoyed it.

I was rewarded greatly for this.  The Cinequest program puts this film in the “Laugh Mavericks” category, and it does have a lot of humor, but it is also a very touching and somewhat dramatic film.  Adam Scott and Joel Bissonnette, playing Michael and Tobey, are fantastic actors and have guest starring credits a mile long on  The script is an amazing, intelligent piece of work by Matt Bissonnette, who brought the award winning WHO LOVES THE SUN to Cinequest in 2007.  There is a HOLY CRAP twist near the end of this movie that I never saw coming in a million, bazillion years, but which was totally believable and brought the film to a particularly touching end.

Audiences who view this film will be very happy they did.  It has three showings at the festival and I will guess that it is going to be an audience favorite.  This is definitely on my recommend list.

Passenger Side now available on Netflix and DVD.

You can watch WHO LOVES THE SUN on Amazon Instant Video.

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