A Pirandellian Thriller (Bill Krohn on Road to Nowhere)
[Reçu un texte de Bill Krohn, ce vieux complice (c'est lui qui le premier m'a conduit chez Monte, sur les hauteurs de Laurel Canyon, il y a longtemps), sur Road To Nowhere. Le voici, tel quel.]
A Pirandellian Thriller
« Road To Nowhere, the first feature in more than 20 years from Monte Hellman, a legendary American director, is a ravishing Pirandellian film noir about the making of a film based on a real-life mystery. At the centre of the story is a vamp named Velma Duran (Shannyn Sossamon, pictured above), who is first shown languidly drying her nails, after which a series of enigmatic events begin just as the credits unfold.
« Somewhere in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina a cop enters an isolated house. After a wait, a gun goes off inside. Velma and a man carrying a satchel leave their homes, get in their cars and drive off into the night, following some timetable we aren’t privy to. As the sun starts to peep over the mountains, the man takes off in a Cessna and Velma parks her car by a tranquil lake, watching impassively until the early morning scene is suddenly disrupted by the Cessna plunging into the water.
« This is not the last time something unexpected breaks the tranquil surface of this film, which cares as much about the beauty of the lake and the actress’s face as it does about what is in the satchel. Did Velma and her accomplice, a crooked politician named Rafe Taschen (Cliff De Young), fake their deaths to escape prosecution ? Did they kill the cop who came to arrest them, or was he in on it ? Was Velma really Velma or an actress hired to play her ? And what would happen if Mitchell Haven (Tygh Runyan), a director, hired the same actress to play the lead in his film about the case, then fell in love with her ?
« All will be answered, but not in the usual order. Billed in the opening credits as "A Mitchell Haven Film", Road To Nowhere shuttles between that ill-fated production and flashbacks from the film-within-the-film that shed light on Velma’s disappearance. Consequently we see Taschen and his lover, a Cuban gangster (Fabio Testi) who is the real Velma’s father, plotting over cappuccinos in Verona long before it dawns on us that they are characters in Mr Haven’s film too. Mr Hellman’s film, the mirror image of that other Road To Nowhere, is a clever brainteaser, but the greatest pleasures it affords are its moment-to-moment marvels of atmosphere and performance. Long after its surface mysteries are dissipated, film-lovers like Mitchell Haven, who woos his lovely actress by showing her his favourite films, will want to have Road To Nowhere to play when they’re in the mood, just as if it were a favourite song. »
Bill Krohn, in The Economist, June 30, 2011