“The Roads Not Taken”: a day in the life of a vegetable


Dring, dring… No answer on the phone. Knock, knock … The door remains closed. Has something bad happened to Leo (Javier Bardem)? Molly (Elle Fanning), his daughter, panics. Do not panic! He’s fine, lying on his bed, staring into space, catatonic as usual. She deploys a wealth of patience to convince him to get up and go to the dentist. The visit turns out badly: he drinks the disinfectant and pisses himself on it. Departure to the supermarket to buy pants, and a new scandal: he steals a dog from his mother.

During these sad tribulations, Leos inner life continues with a flashback to the time he was a successful writer hitting on tourists on a Greek island or mourning a child lost in a Mexican cemetery with his wife (Salma Hayek without makeup). As for Saint Molly, by dint of taking care of her daddy, she misses an important professional meeting …

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Coming from dance, performance and music, Sally Potter has signed several interesting films including The Party, which brings together the cream of the British establishment in a murderous camera. What happened? Why did the English director get lost in this tedious teardrop, globalized, mediocre and highly implausible pudding – how Bardem, a dark hidalgo with an abrupt profile, could father little Fanning with a slim nose and all in blond?

Read also: “The Party”, the meeting place for human hyenas

The Roads Not Taken floats between a form of compassion raised by Schadenfreude (harder will be the fall of the man who succeeded in everything) and the unverifiable hypothesis of a quantum bouquet of tangential destinies – the “roads not taken” of the title. It even has a catechetical dimension: they are immigrant workers, poor among the poor, who reach out to Leo, lost at night in the suburbs and wash his feet according to Jesus’ example …

Javier Bardem has already played a bedridden in Out to sea. Today, he joins the circle of actors who have played the disabled (Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot) or simpletons (Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, Sean Penn in I Am Sam). Frankly, we prefer him as a psychotic killer (No Country for Old Men) or a perverted and downgraded British agent (007-Skyfall).

The Roads Not Taken, by Sally Potter (United Kingdom, Sweden, United States, Poland, Spain), with Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Salma Hayek, Laura Linney, 1h25.

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