Directed by: Panah Panahi
Distributed by: Kino Lorber
Written by Alexander Reams
Keeping information from the viewer can be a useful skill to employ in certain films, but it is rare for a film to keep almost everything from the viewer, even keeping the vast landscapes of Iran from our view as much as he can. From the get-go, we are thrown into a car with four people, a mother (Pantea Panahiha), a father (Hassan Madjooni), an older brother (Amin Simiar), and an annoying 6-year-old (Rayan Sarlak), who hogs the camera exactly how a 6-year-old would, but also is our only window into this world that we are never told anything about. Panahi’s following of this family on the road is a study of how reflective one can become the further one gets from society. In the opening scene where Mom and Dad freak out over a cell phone that the Little Brother has in the car, we don’t know why they’re reacting so vehemently, only that they are scared of the presence of a phone, immediately putting us in a sense of fear and unease.
After the brief encounter with an injured cyclist, the family continues their journey, and reveal the real reason for their sudden departure from their home (no spoilers) but it does hit hard, but not as hard as Panahi clearly intended it to. While having a few missteps, Panahi waxes poetic about refugees and the state of Iran through this one family’s story, and crafts a gorgeously framed, melancholic story that has tones of surrealism throughout. Not because of actual surrealism happening, but because of the vastness of Iran’s landscape. Panahi manages to show the size of Iran through the small windows of the family’s old, crotchety, beaten down car that is struggling to keep going, much like the family. They all have moments of doubt throughout, whether because of their exhaustion, fear, or desperation. The only person, without a doubt, is Panahi, who came out swinging with a very confident debut and one that is filled with the perfect amount of joy and sadness, much like how it can feel when you’re stuck in a car on a long road trip.
“Hit the Road” Trailer
“Hit the Road” is in limited theatrical release.