Produced by Bicephaly Pictures and distributed by FilmRise, The Short History of the Long Road is a beautiful story of survival, human complexity and independence.
The film begins with its lead character Nola (played by Sabrina Carpenter) floating on water, making you wonder whether that’s all she does — float through life. It doesn’t take long for this peaceful moment to get interrupted by Nola’s father Clint (Steven Ogg) as the viewer then gets introduced to the duo.
Apart from each other’s company and their ’84 Volkswagen Westfalia van, it seems as if Nola and Clint have got nothing else in the world. Thanks to Ani Simon-Kennedy’s beautiful writing, this father-daughter bond appears to be strong, yet quite realistic. In fact, Nola’s rebellious nature makes her and Clint’s relationship more dynamic.
Ani Simon-Kennedy’s attention to detail is simply one of the greatest aspects of the film. From doing laundry in a car wash facility to cutting each other’s hair, Nola and Clint experience life in a way that’s completely different to ours. One might even think that Nola doesn’t fit in this adventurous world completely, but living in her van is all she’s ever known. And though Nola admits that she’s exhausted of “hopping around” as well as not being able to watch movies until the end, the road becomes her safe space, especially after Clint’s sudden passing on-screen.
And if it wasn’t for Nola being on her own, it’s unclear whether The Short History of the Long Road would be able to make such an impact on its audience. Throughout the film, Nola encounters different individuals and each person that she meets provides her with a new outlook on life, which makes her journey even more interesting.
As opposed to the beginning of the film when Nola was questioning the lifestyle of vandwelling, she never stays in one place later on. It’s truly satisfying how Nola manages to get rid of all her doubts and, in the end, accepts that the fact that the road is an inseparable part of her own self.
Nevertheless, it’s crucial to acknowledge Cailin Yatsko’s talent and her important role as the cinematographer of The Short History of the Long Road. Every single shot in the film is aesthetically pleasing, but there’s definitely more than meets the eye. There are so many hidden metaphors and symbols behind the colouring, the angles and camera movement. That’s why it’s certainly a must to focus your attention on the cinematography, too.
Sabrina Carpenter’s performance is her best one yet. She doesn’t need to speak or gesture much to express her emotions and that’s the definition of raw talent. You can guess what she’s feeling just by looking at Carpenter’s eyes and it’s nothing less than simply exceptional.
The Short History of the Long Road is an emotional coming-of-age story about finding yourself and going through life with an open mind, exploring your surroundings and learning from different experiences. It’s a great work of art that defines one’s growth and maturity.
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