The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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All Critics (27)
| Top Critics (12)
| Fresh (20)
| Rotten (7)
| DVD (1)
The final scene offers clarity, at least, if not a satisfying payoff.
"The Road to Nowhere" plays like an exercise in frustrating audiences.
Ultimately, the film gets too clever and confusing for its own good, while the slow pacing zaps momentum from the story (and the story within the story).
A rabbit hole of enigmatic characters and swampy motives...Shot by shot, the film has a burnished, beautiful sheen.
"Road to Nowhere" is a beautifully made, glorious mess.
A stylish, shimmering neo-noir with a multi-layered narrative for which the director's longtime collaborator Steven Gaydos has written an exceedingly elliptical and challenging script.
These jigsaw pieces don't fit together.
Hellman is a true artist with a vision for disorientation that carries all the way through "Road to Nowhere," but the lasting impact of the film will be up to the individual viewer and their personal appetite for cinematic riddles.
Without succumbing to any romance about the magic of motion pictures, Hellman imbues Road to Nowhere with a haunted yet hallowed quality.
Becomes less clever the more clever it gets.
The film is a series of carefully composed, painterly tableaux that may stay in your mind long after its "story" has been forgotten.
A return to form. But it still has the power to leave audiences disoriented, just as Hellman's best films Ride in the Whirlwind, The Shooting, Two-Lane Blacktop, and Cockfighter once did.
Hard to believe "Road to Nowhere" is what lured director Monte Hellman back to feature films after a 22-year break. This film-within-a-film aims to be a David Lynch-like puzzle in which alter-ego director Mitchell Haven (Tygh Runyan) casts troubled novice Laurel Graham (Shannyn Sossamon) in his erratic dramatization of a true story about a doomed, con-artist couple. Scenes occur both inside and outside the fictional film without adequate warning, and this arty ambiguity is as about as far as the movie's pleasures go. Well, unless you count Sossamon's stunningly photogenic face. As shooting continues, Mitchell and Laurel becomes lovers and this compromises the project -- smitten Mitchell begins skewing scenes toward his lady, much to the dismay of the screenwriter and other cast members (Cliff De Young plays her older co-star). Meanwhile, a story consultant and insurance investigator (Waylon Payne) is equally fixated on Laurel, and believes she is secretly portraying herself after switching identities to avoid capture. It's all quite confusing, and not interesting enough to worry about. "Road to Nowhere" could be enjoyable if -- like Lynch -- Hellman was a more stylized filmmaker, but this conspicuously flat work not only lacks striking camera movement but doesn't even have a musical score. Overlong at 121 minutes (at the very least, those indulgent excerpts from "The Lady Eve," "The Seventh Seal" and "Spirit of the Beehive" could be cut), this film will thoroughly exhaust most viewers' patience.
Most of the supporting performances are pretty weak but I respect what Monte Hellman is trying to do here. The seamless weaving in and out of the present, the past, and the film the characters are making suggests a world where there are no physical boundaries to separate our reality and ones that we create. Its the kind of story David Lynch would tell, but Hellman uses realism instead of the surreal, so its easy to get lost. By the end even the characters seem unsure of where they are.
Horrific. I couldn't all the way through this one. The acting was awful and the story (from what I saw) was going nowhere, so the title was very apt.
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