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Kodachrome (2017) Movie Review (TIFF 2017)

In Kodachrome, Matt Ryder (Jason Sudeikis) is an arrogant, childish talent agent for musicians. When he loses one of his premiere acts, he finds himself on the verge of losing his job. Lying his way through a conversation with his boss, he buys himself a week to book a major up-and-coming act.

He can get a meeting with this act in Chicago, but only if he accompanies his dying, irate, and estranged father Ben (Ed Harris) to Kansas, where the last photo shop to develop kodachrome is stopping their kodachrome services.

Ben is a famous photo-journalist. Now hardly able to function on his own, he and his live-in nurse Zooey (Elizabeth Olsen) want to travel to this store to develop some precious rolls of photographs. Reluctantly, Matt decides to join them, knowing that it is the only way to save his career.

What ensues is something that has been seen before. Kodachrome has narrative hints of Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, as well as plenty of other films that deal with strained parent-child relationships.

Mark Raso’s film does not have the same pungent atmosphere of Nebraska. In fact, most of it feels rather rote. Matt plays the like-father-like-son jerk who has something to learn (luckily Sudeikis knows how to play this role really well and with adequately-displayed conflicted emotions). Ben is the dead-set in his ways tough love patriarch who meant the best for his kid all along.

Olsen plays the moderator between the two and also acts as the love interest. As strong as Olsen plays the role, her character is the weakest of the triumvirate. The only depth that the character seems to have is that she is self-described as “broken,” which feels unnecessary and reductive for what the character requires.

From an acting standpoint, the true standout is Harris. There is an experienced naturalism to Harris’ grizzled performance that heightens the film immensely.

But it feels like he is in a movie that is trying too hard to have an existential meaning attached to it. The transformation of its main characters does not play out in any transcendent fashion, however. It becomes clear from the introduction of Matt that he will be in need of some attitude reform by the end of the film. The same goes for Ben.

As a result, the film feels like a travel narrative with a likely destination. As much as the performances help to elevate the film, there is nothing revelatory about what is depicted.

 

Kodachrome: C

 

As always, thanks for reading!

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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)

 

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