Sunday, December 5, 2021

#2,672. The Short History of the Long Road (2019)


Written and directed by Ani Simon-Kennedy, The Short History of the Long Road stars Sabrina Carpenter as Nola, a young girl whose father, Clint (Steven Ogg), dropped out of society years earlier, and is teaching his daughter how to survive on the open road.

Driving from town to town in an ‘80s era van, the duo bathes in public restrooms and survives on what little cash Clint earns from the odd fix-it job (a skill he’s passing on to Nola).

But when an unexpected tragedy occurs, Nola finds herself all alone.

Though she does her best to maintain an independent lifestyle, a frightened and confused Nola longs to reconnect with the mother she has never known, and does what she can to make this unlikely reunion a reality.

There are solid supporting performances throughout The Short History of the Long Road; Steven Ogg is likable as the erratic Clint, and Danny Trejo shines as Miguel, the auto mechanic who, in essence, becomes Nola’s father figure when Clint is no longer in the picture.

From start to finish, however, The Short History of the Long Road belongs to Sabrina Carpenter.

It is not a glamorous part; Nola never wears any make-up, and prefers to steal the things she wants or needs (everything from gasoline to library books), even when she has the money to pay. Yet it is Carpenter’s subtle portrayal of this lonely young woman - whose life is suddenly turned upside-down – that keeps us watching, and hoping beyond hope that everything will work out for her, no matter how unlikely a happy ending may seem at times (even a reunion with her mother, played by Maggie Siff, doesn’t provide the stability Nola so desperately needs).

A former Disney Channel star and current pop singer (her 2021 tune Skin reached as high as #48 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts), Carpenter has, with The Short History of the Long Road, also proven herself a fine dramatic actress, and I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more from her in the years to come.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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