In The Road Within, writer and director Gren Wells makes her Directorial debut; an adaptation of the Italian film Vincent Wants to Sea. She brings us the story of three patients at a mental wellness centre in Nevada, who escape to travel to the beaches of California to scatter the ashes of Vincent’s (Robert Sheehan, best known for this role in Misfits) mother.
Vincent, who makes up the first part of the film’s trio, suffers Tourettes, and opens the film in a swearing frenzy at his own mother’s funeral. After being sent to a “behavioural facility”, he meets the two people who unwittingly become the other two members of the escaping trio: Alex (Dev Patel) – a patient with OCD – and Marie (Zoë Kravitz), who suffers from anorexia.
After their escape, they are followed by Vincent’s father Robert (played by Robert Patrick) and Dr. Mia Rose (Kyra Sedgwick), who have end up learning plenty about themselves, as well. Well, Vincent’s father does anyway. The stressed Politician who struggles to love his son, aided by a Doctor who has a few demons of her own.
What follows is a fairly traditional road movie – they get caught, they get away, they learn things about themselves and each other, they use the experience to battle through their illnesses and some of them may even fall in love. Suffice it to say, it’s a predictable journey. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an enjoyable one all the same. The performances from the three leads are phenomenal, and as they drive through the Californian hills, heading through Big Sur, Carmel and Santa Cruz, there are some fantastic moments of beauty, supported by excellent cinematography and a solid soundtrack.
Patrick and Sedgwick are similarly enjoyable in their roles – two veteran actors who add some extra charm to the film. Though Patrick’s “neglectful Father” role is something overused in cinema, the two play off each other well and help deliver some of the film’s most memorable scenes.
The Road Within is a predictable film that walks a much trodden path. And given it’s an adaptation of the Italian film Vincent Wants to Sea, saying it’s been done before is quite a literal statement. But what the film lacks in originality, or a satisfying ending, it makes up for in the engrossing performances from our three leads. Sheehan, Kravitz and Patel all play their parts with care, skill and grace. Playing characters with mental illness is never something no actor would approach lightly – and they certainly don’t. They give this film the heart that it needs, and trodden path or not, it’s a enjoyable journey.
Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Road Within is now available VOD, DVD and Blu-Ray!