A chaotic, tender family is on a road trip across a rugged landscape, but to where? In the back seat, Dad has a broken leg, but is it really broken? Mom tries to laugh when she’s not holding back tears. The kid keeps exploding into choreographed car karaoke. All of them are fussing over the sick dog and getting on each other’s nerves. Only the mysterious older brother is quiet.
A family of four is riding in a car. It is noisy yet pleasant inside, but the atmosphere feels somewhat heavy. The fun, everyday image of the parents trying to calm and comfort their younger son, who can barely sit still, is contrasted with the silence of their elder son, who is driving in silence—this contrast adds to the mysterious tension. The film gradually makes the audience guess their destination and reveals in the end why the family left home and started on this journey. The eyes of the characters who occasionally stare straight at the camera, convey the weight of emotions pressing down on the audiences’ hearts, leaving a deep impression. Director Panah Panahi worked as an assistant director under his father, Iranian master filmmaker Jafar Panahi, to hone his skills. Hit the Road is his feature-length debut, and he provides an insight into Iranian society along with a warm gaze on the family throughout the film. Since it was premiered during the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021, the film has proven its workmanship by winning awards at the BFI London Film Festival, Mar del Plata IFF, and Singapore IFF. Among the outstanding acting ensembles, child actor Rayan Sarlak's performance shines in particular. [Stella HWANG]
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