out of Five
Running time: 88
Nicely acted, offbeat film that’s part emotional drama, part road movie.
Around the Bend is the directorial debut of writer-director Jordan Roberts, who wrote the (fictional) script as a way of working out his relationship with his own estranged father. The result is a nicely acted, offbeat little film that is well worth catching before it disappears due to its limited release.
Separated Bank Employee Cares For Family
Josh Lucas stars as bank employee Jason Lair, who has recently separated from his wife and has been left to take care of both his six year old son Zach (Jonah Bobo) and his ailing grandfather Henry (Michael Caine).
Henry, a former archaeologist, divides his days between devising elaborate alternatives to burial and lusting after his new Danish nurse, Katrina (Glenne Headly). However, when Josh’s estranged father Turner (Christopher Walken) shows up after an absence of over 30 years, Henry is determined to see his son and grandson forge a relationship, so he leaves a complicated set of instructions for his burial that are to be followed in the event of his death.
Around the Bend apparently takes its title from the song by Creedence Clearwater Revival. It’s an unusual, oddly satisfying film that’s part road movie and part emotional drama. There’s also a lot of humour in the film, with several good lines and offbeat moments, such as Turner stealing a dog from its brutish owner.
The acting is extremely good. Lucas makes an appealing lead - oddly enough, this is his second film where he plays one of Michael Caine’s relatives. As for Caine, it’s a shame that his screen time is so limited, because his character is both intriguing and funny - he even manages to do a decent American accent for once.
There’s also strong support from Jonah Bobo and Glenne Headly gets several laughs with her bizarre turn as Henry’s Danish-accented, horror movie-loving live-in nurse.
Walken Stands Out
Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, the stand-out is Christopher Walken, despite the fact that his trademarked weirdness is relatively reigned in. His character is constantly full of surprises and gets most of the best lines.
Also, as with all the best Christopher Walken movies, he manages to squeeze in a particularly enjoyable dance sequence, in this case a ‘tribal’ dance by a bonfire.
The film also features an unusual bit of product placement - for Kentucky Fried Chicken - that initially seems highly intrusive, as if KFC had sponsored the entire film. However, it has a pay-off that just about makes up for it and the script does manage to get at least two good gags out of it. (“Get dressed up! We’re going somewhere fancy!”, etc).
In short, Around the Bend is an enjoyable film that feels small, despite its big name cast and is both moving and amusing in equal measure. Catch it while you can.