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"Road to Nowhere": Monte Hellman on the road again
| 12.04.11 | 13h55 Updated 12.04.11 | 16h48 A rare filmmaker, a clever thriller, the discovery of an actress. Upon arrival, a great film. This man with the precognizant name Hell, that of a cult filmmaker mistreated by the studios and sentenced to failed projects. Author of two existential westerns starring Jack Nicholson (Ride in the Whirlwind, 1965, The Shooting, 1967), the famous Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), which Universal produced in hopes of renewing the success of Easy Rider (1969), and then sabotaged the release noting that it was more like a contemplative reflection on the lack of communication than the road movie with Dennis Hopper, Monte Hellman will pay for his expensive reputation as an independent filmmaker. He¶s only signed ten films in fifty years. With a special Golden Lion at the Venice Festival in 2010, Road to Nowhere celebrates the return of an artist so cursed he could direct nothing for twenty years. For the younger generation who have not seen his (false) action movies haunted by Albert Camus, Samuel Beckett and Robert Bresson, the glory of Hellman is to have set foot in the stirrup of Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, 1992) and Vincent Gallo (Buffalo 66, 1998). Road to Nowhere, the return of the damned, provides a special feeling for those who yearn for an auteur from the epoque of the magnificent slow, Antonioni and Wenders style. Considered the most European of Hollywood filmmakers, Monte Hellman, 78, will combine the throes of a filmmaker shooting a movie with a plot of film noir, and a reflection on the obsession with perfection. One that was guiding the Chevy driver in Two-Lane Blacktop or the trainer of cocks in Cockfighter (1974). Here, then, a young man determined to adapt to film a news story: the story of the enigmatic Velma Duran, who was embroiled in a murky political issue out of love for a shady character with whom she had committed suicide based on oppression in Cuba. He seeks the perfect actress, resists pressure from producers who want to see Scarlett Johansson signed, finds a virtual unknown whom he wins over, imposes, and with whom he falls in love ... The bulk of Road to Nowhere is this abyss of a movie-within-a-movie which allows Monte Hellman to show an interview with DiCaprio on The Departed (2006), advocate the right to make movies for other reasons than to "make lots of money", and to hire a Series B actress, explaining that she will just be herself. This nod to performance directions of Samuel Fuller to
Robert Stack in The House of Bamboo (1955) prefigures a disturbing revelation. The filmmaker tracks the inner truth of his actress. In his room he shows her films of Preston Sturges (The Lady Eve, where Henry Fonda falls in love twice with the same woman without noticing), Ingmar Bergman (The Seventh Seal) and Victor Erice (The Spirit of the Beehive, on which Hellman once wrote that it was a reflection on "the greatest mysteries, namely creation and death" - Positiv No. 400). While a journalist who covered the Velma Duran case, as well as an expert from an insurance company, stay keenly interested in the shooting. Do not say more, except a stolen USB drive, a substitution of bodies. And the memory that comes to us suddenly, at the tragic end of the film, that one of the themes of The Shooting was that of a lookalike. Episodically lulled by the music of Kris Kristofferson and Tom Russell, the plot multiples the rhymes and illustrates the ideal of a cinema cultivating emotion of the moment, the emotion on the set, between "Action!" and "Cut!", the rest was wasted time, dead, "nowhere". All Monte Hellman is there in this race to the truth that only the image is capable of revealing, a manhunt that induces slippage between reality and fiction, confusion of identity. In Road to Nowhere, the actress is more than "the" character, because it is the character who plays the role of the person. Dangerous games: in Two-Lane ... the film melts at the end of the movie, The Shooting meant both "filming" and "firing". Here, the filmmaker takes his camera tracked at arm's length (an HD camera, the Canon 5D Mark II), and the police that encircle yell "Drop your weapon!" The quest is a killer. Jean-Luc Douin