Film Review: The Motel Life
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★★★☆☆Directed by the Polsky brothers, The Motel Life marks their directorial debut, an adaptation of the Willy Vlautin novel of the same name. After becoming involved in another’s fatal accident, two brothers, Frank Lee (Emile Hirsch) and Jerry Lee (Stephen Dorff), are forced to run from the law in a bid to save themselves from an imprisoned fate. The film is gritty, sweaty and moving. It demonstrates an ability to capture a particular devastation which is cloaked in a raw approach. It is suffocating in the sense that wherever the brothers travel, the hit-and-run crime looms over them. But it is sometimes difficult to separate this desolating circumstance with the cat-and-mouse chases that saturate cliché action-adventures. Despite this cliché dominating a total different part of the cinematic sphere, the Polsky brothers do not pursue anything idiosyncratic enough that entirely excuses the film from conventional comparisons. The setting is particularly interesting. Set in Sierra Nevada, the narrative ranges from derelict frosty scenes in abandoned spacious areas that are reminiscent of Fargo to Frank and Jerry driving through vibrant city streets. There are also hotel rooms, the insides of cars and hospital beds where the physical claustrophobia translates to an emotional smother, leaving the weight of the tragedy heavy on all shoulders.
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