If you like watching YouTube videos of crazy things but can’t be bothered spending days searching videos randomly on the internet, then Dmitri Kalashnikov’s THE ROAD MOVIE may be the perfect fit for you. Edited from footage downloaded from free online sources, the movie assembles a variety of Russian dashboard camera (dash-cam) clips to create a different kind of viewing experience.
It would be interesting to know how exactly the young director made his selections as he mined the seemingly endless array of footage from the Internet. It did not always seem that there was a method to the madness. Blending typical accident footage, not-so-typical accident footage, acts of road rage, stupidity, odd occurrences, and a whole lot of randomness, THE ROAD MOVIE has its hit and miss moments. Some clips seem to drag on for far too long, while others are striking or beautiful and don’t last long enough. The downside of compiling collections of clips is that often some of the most interesting conversations probably occur in the aftermath of the exciting clip and those won’t be included in the available online footage.
Another thing that won’t be included is narrative or flow. While having a variety of footage provides a little more fodder for different tastes, it also creates challenges in terms of pacing, transition, and cohesion. Although apparently structured to follow the cycle of a year, the assembly of clips often times just feels jarring. THE ROAD MOVIE feels less like a movie and more like watching television while the remote control is in the hands of someone with a completely different attention span from you. Because the film lacks any form of narrative, it may be difficult for some viewers to stomach.
I almost wish it had combined the actual footage with additional creative narratives to give more of a sense of a story, but that’s me. I respect that it’s not my movie and Dmitri Kalashnikov did not want to tell a story so much as give a sense of emotion and convey how people perceive the events around them. To this end, THE ROAD MOVIE succeeds.
From one Russian driver to the next, reactions seem to help paint a picture of the collective Russian personality. This is not to imply that all Russians react the same way. Their responses vary dramatically. Some reactions feel stoic or entirely too calm while others are almost comically over-the-top and melodramatic. Each driver or passenger engaged in an off-camera conversation presents another piece of information about a country most Americans would never visit. It’s an interesting depiction of a world we Americans know little about.
If you’re looking for shocking clips, you’ll find some here, but the majority of footage is not as extreme as something you may find on any number of shows on Spike TV. If you’re wanting to learn how to swear in Russian, there is plenty of cursing to help with that goal. If you’re wanting to listen to more global music, pay attention to the original score by Troitsa, Aukcion, and Red Snapper. If you’re wanting a sense of what it is like to live and drive in Russia, it gives you a pretty good sense of that. THE ROAD MOVIE gives you a glimpse of what’s beyond your corner of the world, and there is always value in that.