Follows a chaotic, tender family that is on a road trip across a rugged landscape and fussing over the sick dog and getting on each others’ nerves. Only the mysterious older brother is quiet.
‘Hit the Road’ is the directorial debut of Panah Panahi, the son of renowned Iranian director Jafar Panahi, and it shares the neorealist approach of his father’s work. It is a movie about an Iranian family who are travelling on a lengthy journey to a destination and for a purpose that is initially unclear. We can tell that there’s a tension in the air and little snippets reveal that they’re running away from something, something which will only start to become clear over the course of the film through conversations between the main characters.
The family of four comprise of a father (Hassan Madjooni), mother (Pantea Panahiha), eldest son Farid (Amin Simiar) and the youngest son (Rayan Sarlak), alongside their elderly dog Jennie. Farid is driving and we begin to learn that he is the reason why the family is setting off on a journey together. It features many of the common trappings of a road movie, from quirky characters they meet along the way to the ways in which old wounds resurface and relationships grow between the core group, set against a backdrop of the sparse Iranian countryside. As you might expect given my opening gambit, this isn’t a happy film and the purpose for the journey is not a happy holiday, and whilst I was prepared for that, I did struggle to connect to the story and found the withholding of information a barrier to investing fully in their journey.
It didn’t help that I found the youngest son to be quite an annoying presence, granted that is something to be expected with a young child in real life but it did impact on my overall enjoyment of the movie (appreciating it is almost sacrilegious to criticise a child actor, this is more a personal view on the writing – Rayan Sarlak’s performance is fine). I did like some of the cinematic choices, particularly the long shots used towards the end to maintain a distance between the people the family meet at the conclusion and the journey we’ve watched to this point, and the sporadic surrealist elements are well placed. I had high hopes for ‘Hit the Road’ and I was a little disappointed to be honest, finding it quite slow moving despite being a short film (93 minutes) and whilst sympathising with the families plight, it never gripped me as I’d hoped it would.
Directed By: Panah Panahi
Starring: Hassan Madjooni, Pantea Panahiha, Amin Simiar and Rayan Sarlak