Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Richard Linklater Frontrunner To Direct 'The Rosie Project' Starring Jennifer Lawrence Richard Linklater Frontrunner To Direct 'The Rosie Project' Starring Jennifer Lawrence The 10 Best And 5 Worst Tom Cruise Performances The 10 Best And 5 Worst Tom Cruise Performances Just For Laughs: 'The Big Lebowski' Live Read With Michael Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence Just For Laughs: 'The Big Lebowski' Live Read With Michael Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence Union Rep Says Safety Was A Concern On 'The Revenant' Shoot Union Rep Says Safety Was A Concern On 'The Revenant' Shoot All The Songs In 'Paper Towns' Including Bon Iver, Wilco, Vampire Weekend, Bob Dylan, And More All The Songs In 'Paper Towns' Including Bon Iver, Wilco, Vampire Weekend, Bob Dylan, And More "A Living Hell": 'The Revenant' Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More "A Living Hell": 'The Revenant' Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More 'Top Of The Lake' Season 2 Starts Shooting This Year, Elisabeth Moss Returns 'Top Of The Lake' Season 2 Starts Shooting This Year, Elisabeth Moss Returns Watch: Trailer For Bret Easton Ellis’ Penned Teen Horror ‘The Curse of Downers Grove’ With Bella Heathcote Watch: Trailer For Bret Easton Ellis’ Penned Teen Horror ‘The Curse of Downers Grove’ With Bella Heathcote Watch: Video Essay Counts Down The 10 Most Beautiful Movies Of All Time Watch: Video Essay Counts Down The 10 Most Beautiful Movies Of All Time Watch: Bond Is Back In New Trailer For 'Spectre' With Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, And More Watch: Bond Is Back In New Trailer For 'Spectre' With Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, And More Alejandro González Iñárritu Still Has To Shoot The Finale Of 'The Revenant' Alejandro González Iñárritu Still Has To Shoot The Finale Of 'The Revenant' The 20 Best Films Of 2015 So Far The 20 Best Films Of 2015 So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season Stephen King Says Wendy In Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "One Of The Most Misogynistic Characters Ever Put On Film" Stephen King Says Wendy In Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "One Of The Most Misogynistic Characters Ever Put On Film" All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More "It Was A Clusterfuck From Day One": 5 Things About Neill Blomkamp's Failed 'Halo' Movie "It Was A Clusterfuck From Day One": 5 Things About Neill Blomkamp's Failed 'Halo' Movie Martin Scorsese Names His 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time Martin Scorsese Names His 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time

Tribeca Review: 'Roadie' And The Sad Aftermath of A Failed Life On The Road

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist May 3, 2011 at 3:03AM

For some, life is a series of indignities. One second too slow, one step too far, and our dreams go unfulfilled. In every bar in the country, there is someone drinking away his regrets, trying to make peace with the records they didn’t break and the hearts they didn’t soothe. Michael Cuesta’s “Roadie” is a film about one of those men.
2


For some, life is a series of indignities. One second too slow, one step too far, and our dreams go unfulfilled. In every bar in the country, there is someone drinking away his regrets, trying to make peace with the records they didn’t break and the hearts they didn’t soothe. Michael Cuesta’s “Roadie” is a film about one of those men.

Jimmy Testagross is returning home to Queens huskier, middle-aged, and not nearly the man he expected to be. His rockstar dreams turned into excessive fandom, as he became a roadie for the Blue Oyster Cult, logging considerable mileage without much industry respect to show for the time spent carrying guitars, loading up trucks, and managing the dietary habits of aging musicians. While it’s clear he’s not going to be a part of the band’s future, he now walks the abandoned streets of his hometown, visiting familiar haunts while his fist remains clenched around the exotic promise of South America, the next stop on the Cult tour.

His mother is glad to see him, but the time spent tending the garden, repeating her daily routine, suggests a wandering focus. She’s smart enough to understand that something’s bothering Jimmy, but also sharp enough to realize that it’s best she play dumb. The boy’s got enough to worry about. Specifically Nikki, his old high school crush, still apparently bumming around in his old haunts.

Her dreams were similar, and like Jimmy, they haven’t taken her to the life of riches she expected. Open mics are her grand stage, as she peddles her self-produced CD’s of acoustic singer-songwriter confessionals. When Jimmy recognizes her hunger for anything even remotely rock and roll, he begins perpetuating the lie that he’s actually Blue Oyster Cult’s manager and occasional songwriter. Whether Nikki is dubious or accepting of his lie is unclear, though it immediately doesn’t pass the smell test with her husband Randy.

Randy is the friend we all have, a tornado of bad decisions that sweeps in and out of your life before you have any recollection of what happened. Through some back-patting and gregarious laughs, Randy ingratiates himself to Jimmy even after admitting he was a bully from their high school years that Jimmy has managed to disown. Randy immediately notices the sadness in Jimmy’s eyes and has intentions that are twofold. Bringing in the more-attractive Jimmy to the dynamic involving Randy and his wife is sure to complicate matters. But Randy, who still calls him “Jimmy Testicles”, is a guy who wants to watch gleefully as Jimmy burns to the ground, particularly as his own wife lifts Jimmy up from his own depression. When he “spontaneously” gets Jimmy coked up and drunk, you can see the wheels moving in his head.

As Jimmy, Ron Eldard is both affecting and pathetic. Despite years on the road, he is stymied by a coffee machine, and helpless at the sight of laundry. After 26 years on the road, he’s back to helping his mother (Lois Smith, dignified and compassionate) plant tomatoes. Eldard is clearly not afraid of showing an undeveloped paunch, or letting his voice crack when he gets angry, giving a performance of surprising depth.

As Nikki, Jill Hennessy strikes a perfect balance between “dream girl” and “dreamer,” never avoiding the notion that, whatever there was between Nikki and Jimmy in the past ended poorly. And as Randy, Bobby Cannavale spits pure venom, a portrait of an obnoxious working-class ass who lives vicariously through the failures of others. If Jimmy is the dream, and Nikki the dreamer, Randy is the one who isn’t happy unless someone else isn’t. It’s one of the uglier turns in a career spent playing overcompensating jerks, and there’s almost something troubling about the fact Mr. Cannavale does it so well.

“Roadie” is a film of small ambitions - the picture seems less concerned with having you like or root for the underachieving Jimmy than simply depicting the world of shame he occupies. But it rings true in the small details. The ageism of returning home, exemplified by Jimmy’s avoidance of the elderly neighbors. The sadness of a roadie fixing a guitar, the mythical tool one can grasp, but never wield on stage. And, most importantly, the value of rock as a concept that makes a roadie’s life worth living. When Jimmy waxes philosophically on the merits of Blue Oyster Cult, describing then without condescension as “thinking man’s metal,” it’s the one moment Jimmy emerges from his why-me doldrums to illustrate the passion of great music. And when Jimmy and Nikki begin to bond while listening to old records by the Good Rats, there’s the feeling of rock past and rock present delicately informing each other showcasing the necessity of both. [B+]

This article is related to: Actors, Review, Bobby Cannavale


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates