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The Motel Life: When all you have is your brother and he’s not enough

 
The Motel Life
The Motel Life
The Motel Life

 
Overview
 

Genre: , ,
 
Starring: , , ,
 
Directed By: ,
 
Studio:
 
MPAA Rating:
 
Release Date: November 8, 2013
 
Length: 85 minutes
 
Directing
7.0


 
Plot
7.0


 
Acting
9.0


 
Cinematography
7.0


 
Total Score
7.5
7.5/ 10


 

Whoa


Actors Stephen Dorff and Emile Hirsch have chemistry that rivals Redford and Newman in 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.'

No


Despite the filmmakers' effort to provide balance, it's hard to sit through all the misery.


Bottom Line

Down-and-out drifters Frank (Emile Hirsh) and Jerry Lee (Stephen Dorff) Flannigan grow up together on the run – from their circumstances, from the law and from their own demons. What passes for home in The Motel Life is any place with four walls for Jerry Lee to tape his drawings to and a bathroom alcoholic […]

0
Posted November 25, 2013 by

 
Full Review
 
 

Down-and-out drifters Frank (Emile Hirsh) and Jerry Lee (Stephen Dorff) Flannigan grow up together on the run – from their circumstances, from the law and from their own demons. What passes for home in The Motel Life is any place with four walls for Jerry Lee to tape his drawings to and a bathroom alcoholic Frank can puke in.  When Jerry Lee laments – after a life that has included losing his leg trying to hop a freight train and killing a boy in a hit-and-run car accident – to his brother, “We’re fuck-ups, Frank,” it’s hard to fault his logic. Nonetheless, Frank (Emile Hirsh) counters, “Don’t say that – we’re just getting started.” But the writing is already on the wall.

And so The Motel Life is a story of star-crossed brothers. Despite their talents – Frank as a storyteller, Jerry Lee as an artist – all the guys seem to have, the film makes clear early, is each other. The supporting roles from a fatherly Kris Kristofferson and Frank’s ex-girlfriend Dakota Fanning are commendable. Roman Vasyanov’s cinematography deftly juxtaposes stark Reno winter and bleak motel interiors with animation (representing Jerry Lee’s illustrations of Frank’s tales) from Mike Smith. Although author Willy Vlautin’s award-winning novel was a worthy narrative that drew comparisons to Bukowski, this cinematic adaptation doesn’t deliver the same gut-punch affect as the book. Perhaps the film tries to do – and show – too much, but it stands as a classic example of how print and film are distinct, sometimes irreconcilable, mediums.

The pairing of Hirsch and Dorff redeems the film, as their acting chemistry cements the utter devotion and commitment the brothers have for one another despite the trail of challenges and shortcomings they face.

The film is available on iTunes and On Demand.


Mark

 
Mark Woodlief wrote for the cool '90s magazines that didn't make it – Option, Raygun, Warp, The (Seattle) Rocket, CMJ – plus some daily and weekly newspapers, too. Seeing all the great bands – Mission of Burma, Husker Du, Volcano Suns, Flaming Lips, Wire, the dBs, the Feelies, Patti Smith, ad infinitum – he has seen has left him Whopperjawed.


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