It has been a while since I have seen a halfway interesting crime drama, and even longer since I’ve seen one so willing to throw caution to the wind and incorporate elements and themes into one movie that are notoriously mutually exclusive. No Right Turn deserves credit for, if nothing else, not making a bloody mess of weaving a fairy tale and a drug-fueled, sex-tinged, revenge crime drama into one. That’s not to say that this sophomore effort from Denmark based David Noel Bourke isn’t without its rough patches and indie hiccups, but those ubiquitous artifacts and follies of independent film aren’t enough to keep the pleasantly sordid narrative and acting from rising to the top and driving the film to its odd finale. The plot is fairly simple, concerning itself with the plight of about 5 people who range from a whore who is entangled with a coke dealing drunkard with delusional aspirations to a coke-head playwright with an obsession for old machinery, especially trains, to a suicidal and emotionally defunct painter who life is changed by “chance rescue” of one of our other main characters. Tensions boil as the each character finds out how they are all connected in some way, and plans are hatched which have equal chance of making someone very rich or very dead.
To spout on anymore about the details of the story would be unwise on my part, but what I can elaborate on is something that jumped out at me from the very start, which is the cinematography and the directing. One of my main gripes will the population of Middle of the Road-ville, IndieFilmLand (that place really doesn’t exist, ‘cept for in my head) is that there is usually too much focus on trying to be shocking, or genre-hopping, or outlandish and not enough focus on making whatever kind of film they are making look its absolute best despite what the budget constraints may be. If I, and I think this statement goes for many of the viewing public out there, can see a modicum of professionalism in the quality of the image, and to a slightly lesser extent, the quality of the audio, then the likelihood of me sitting through the entire thing is much, much better. No Right Turn seems to be in line with me in that mindset, since not only does it look pretty sleek and slick, there are some outdoor scenes (the opening bathtub scene and any scene involving that bathtub, and the outdoor snow sequences) that are just really breathtaking in their simplicity and beauty. I commend, above all other praise, the work of David Noel Bourke and his crew in giving this flick that extra coat of polish that makes it easier to enjoy the interactions on screen.
Bourke keeps the pace of the film fairly methodical, but it never dips into the realm of yawn land or feeling disproportionately dragged out in order to pad time. Whether or not you dig the pace is a matter of opinion, but I was impressed with the fact the film always seemed to know where it was going, and didn’t venture off into a web of subplots or bombard us with scenes that, while cool, don’tt really have any genuine purpose. The acting, which is the ultimate compliment to any director’s vision, is lead by Sira Stampe (Monella) and Laura Bach (Nina) who really helped to keep me involved in the story and add some complexity and palpable emotion to the piece. Tthe rest of the cast also does a really great job pinning down the mainline traits of their respective persona’s and driving those into their performance with fervor, most of the time for better, and occasionally for the worse.
No Right Turn was one of the tougher reviews I have donet. It is a bit outside my personal comfort range, but I’m glad to have the experience of seeing it a bit early (thanks to director David Noel Bourke) and being able to share my thoughts on it. It’s certainly is a pulpy, noir-y, and even fantastical tale, but I suspect that during my viewing I might have missed some of the messages, especially when it came to the very final few shots. There is a lot of confidence throughout No Right Turn, and a certain bit of “cool” that flows through its veins which helps to define it. At the same time though, I felt myself wishing there was a bit more in the last act, but since the flick put a premium on its quiet, calculating pace, maybe a big to-do wouldn’t have served the first two acts quite as well. Regardless of my qualms thought, No Right Turn is still one of the best Indie offerings of 2009.