Friday, March 18, 2011

Passenger Side (2009)

At a glance:
Quiet, gentle, and rewarding, Passenger Side is a character study of two brother who share little more than blood

Our review (with spoilers):
Passenger Side cruises along the roads of the greater LA area, as two brothers, a study in contrasts, go on an all day tour. Toby (Joel Bissonette) is looking for Linda, a former girlfriend who wants to get back together. Michael (Adam Scott) is driving him from acquaintance to acquaintance. As is often the way with family, these are two guys that we’re pretty sure would not be in the same car together if they were not related. Toby likes to live on the edge; he’s a recovering alcoholic who has a few weird friends – like the tranny who gets into Michael’s car and proceeds to get off. Toby has a serenity that is fully lacking from Michael’s personality. Michael is almost depressed, troubled, almost catatonic. He doesn’t hate life but the most you could say is that he is tolerating it. His low self-esteem is masked but evident. Occasionally, Michael stops to leave a message for his girlfriend, who never answers the phone.

This severely naturalistic buddy movie is unique in that it is a pure character study, driven totally by a need to slowly reveal who these two people are and what they mean to each other. Scott has a relaxed charm in his acting that always masks suppressed anger and perhaps confusion. Bissonette, for his part, feels even more relaxed. These guys almost transcend acting. They are simply living, and, like real life, complications sometimes ensue. It’s a quiet, minimalist film that nonetheless has the ability to touch with its sparseness and heartfelt emotion.

Rating: 3 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"An intriguing and funny ride that doesn't hit you over the head trying to be one thing or another."
- Jim Slotek (Jam! Movies)

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