HIT THE ROAD gets 7/10 Family life on the highway

Directed by Panah Panahi

Starring Hassan Madjooni, Rayan Sarlak, Bahram Ark, Pantea Panahiha


This Iranian road movie is a little light on details to make it dramatically intriguing, though it’s an enjoyable romp as it goes, bringing you into the world (or car-ride) of this family who are travelling for somewhat mysterious reasons.

The simple premise revolves around a family of four, travelling down the highway, seemingly escaping some kind of trouble back home (though it’s never thoroughly explained). Each character really brings their own temperament to the story. The father (Hassan Madjooni) is laid-back and sleepy, trying to rest off his broken leg. The kid (Rayan Sarlak) is more outgoing and adventurous, seemingly the only one taking any joy from this road trip. The older brother (Bahram Ark) is more focused on getting to the destination, determinedly driving and making sure to avoid any setbacks. And then there’s the mother (Pantea Panahiha), the worrier of the family, who feels (but hides) a sense of melancholy.

But each of them, except maybe the kid, all seem to be obscuring some detail about their emotional state, leaving a lot of how they feel to be kept internal. We sometimes get revealing close-ups from inside the car, where we can try and divulge some information from their faces. But other times, these faces are filmed in wide shots, where we can only get a glimpse of their silhouettes. Either way, the film is very handsomely shot, featuring all sorts of the different (but equally barren) landscapes of the countryside.

One plot point that doesn’t seem to work is that of the sick dog and the resting place the family are looking for. But this supposedly beloved family pet doesn’t seem to be earning the grief a family pet should be getting. The young boy doesn’t seem to be distraught at all over this. In fact, the dog doesn’t seem to mind either, looking apparently happy and healthy all throughout the film.

So the film comes across as a bit too unsure about its vague premise, and isn’t sure how to really bring all the elements together in the most emotionally satisfying way. But it gets it mostly right, through such believable acting and dialogue, making this family seem larger than life. This is an impressive directorial debut from Panah Panahi, the son of Jafar Panahi, and although this film hasn’t quite got the socio-political or metatextual musing of his father’s films, this is a solid start to his career that hopefully gets a bit more substantive.


Hit the Road plays at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, March 21 to Sunday, March 27. For more information and to buy tickets head to perthfestival.com.au

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