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Motel Life, The


Stars: Emile Hirsch, Stephen Dorff, Dakota Fanning, Kris Kristofferson

Director: Alan & Gabriel Polsky

Two low IQ, blue-collar brothers (Hirsch, Dorff) drift from town to town, especially after Jerry Lee, who has only half of his right leg, knocks down and kills a boy cyclist.

The clearly-doomed Jerry Lee (Dorff) is a talented artist who delights in illustrating his brother's fanciful stories. But there looks little more future for Frank (Hirsch) who, forced to quit his menial job, is coughing up blood, while dreaming of his ex (Fanning), whom he ditched after her prostitute mother compelled her to join the family profession.

Later Frank burns the lethal car, then has a stroke of luck when a friend persuades him to bet on boxer Buster Douglas against Mike Tyson, in what turns out to be one of the great sporting upsets of all time; but the cops are on the brothers' trail and the jaws of the law are rapidly closing.

This is a good film, although, as you can see, there are not many laughs. But the actors, Dorff especially, build thoroughly convincing relationships, and the photography of the Nevadan countryside is refreshingly picturesque rather than grungy. It's a bit slow, admittedly, even for such a short movie, but what content the film does have is, on the whole, worthwhile, and there are some neat exchanges of dialogue.

'You got a girlfriend?' asks a friendly Kristofferson. "I used to,' replies Hirsch. 'Well.' says Kristofferson. 'There you go. Some broad thinks you're all right.'

David Quinlan

USA 2012. UK Distributor: House Distribution UK. Colour by deluxe.
83 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 01 Apr 2014