SFIFF Review: Pearblossom HWY


There are a hundred songs about the compelling desire to “get out of this town.” There’s no shortage of films on the subject either, which is why I was surprised to find a unique, albeit incredibly bleak perspective in Mike Ott’s “Pearblossom Hwy.” “Mumblecore” is a term used to describe a certain level of realism in character-driven independent dramas. But I’m starting to believe that Mumblecore is simply the best way to tell a story. The characters are so authentic that you tend to root for them almost immediately. But this also means you have no idea how it will turn out. Life isn’t a movie but that doesn’t mean a movie can’t be like life.

“Pearblossom Hwy” is a shining example of this exceptional genre. Ott and co-writer/star Atsuko Okatsuka have crafted a small town tale that breaks all the rules that Hollywood has set for dramatic storytelling. Cory (Cory Zachariah) is a sensitive blockhead with dreams of stardom. He films his video selfies as part of an audition for a reality TV show, but we know he’s not going to make the cut. His problems are way too grave to make for good television. His punk band is lucky to get tiny gigs at the local watering hole, and he doesn’t even really have a day-job to not quit. Cory is a small-town kid with big dreams, but it’s only a matter of time before these dreams are dashed. You would not see Channing Tatum playing a character that unnervingly tragic. Cory comes off as one of those naive gay kids from Middle America who winds up on the end of a rope. His potential misfortune looms so ominously that you’re not sure you want to be around when it happens…

Read the rest at Film Threat.

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