Last Featured: July 5, 2017
The Road Within, a film about three teenagers coping with mental illnesses who escape their institution, is not for the easily offended. But for those who love a funny character-driven story, this one's worth checking out.
Films that skirt the edge of cliché run the risk of rejection, both from us and critics at large. The more successful of the bunch are the ones that take their conventionality in stride and flush the narrative with what makes them unique. The Road Within does just that with its quirky characters and humor.
This remake of the 2010 German film Vincent Wants to Sea is the story of three teenagers coping with mental illnesses. Vincent (Robert Sheehan) has Tourette’s, Alex (Dev Patel) has crippling germaphobia, and Marie (Zoë Kravitz) suffers from life-threatening anorexia. In an attempt to escape the confines of their institution, they embark on a road trip to the ocean.
The humor of the film is largely derived from the clashing of the characters’ maladies. You have to know this going in and try not to take offense at the jabs and jokes that fill the screenplay. In one example, a traveler calls someone with an eating disorder “The Incredible Shrinking Woman.” Any attack on someone’s illness is offensive, but it’s a reality—often framed in comedy—that the characters must face along their journey.
It is the presence and acting ability of Sheehan, Patel, and Kravitz that brings a fresh vibrancy to characters whose personalities may have never shone through their issues. If you’re a film cynic, this one might not work for you; but with an open attitude, The Road Within’s heart and humor will rise above its cliché.