The Loneliest Road In America

| May 8, 2011

This early-effort film, The Loneliest Road in America features a cast and crew entirely comprised of new-comers to the motion picture screen. Director Mardana M. Mayginnes and actor Colin Michael Day met at The University of Denver and later worked in a commercial house in Los Angeles. Disgruntled with the daily grind and script in hand, they gathered a group of like-minded souls, conjured up a severely limited budget by Hollywood standards and set out to make their first feature film. With the recent road-trip movie successes of Little Miss Sunshine and the Motorcycle Diaries, I wondered what substance this group of freshmen would bring to this well-established genre.
The opening scene takes place along Interstate 70 in Colorado as the duo of two former college roommates, now in their late-twenties, heads towards L.A. Jamie (Colin Michael Day), a sensitive and fiscally-challenged vegetarian bartender and his consummate capitalist buddy Matt, (Chris Hayes), pass through the Eisenhower Tunnel and at the crest of the Continental Divide. This is literally the place where all things – as well as the rivers that flow from east to west – are drawn into the mysterious, magnetic pull towards the Pacific.
Jamie, stifled in a relationship with clingy Amanda (Jennifer Devereaux) is craving a mind-expanding getaway, while Matt is expecting a balls-to-the-walls party affair. Along the way, Matt, in an effort to add some carnal spice to the outing, picks up party-girl Ashley (Abby Leigh), a former lover and harmless piece of eye-candy. Jamie strikes up a tryst with the sexy tag-along, thus providing a welcome distraction from his smothering girlfriend.
Much of the movie’s mid-section takes place as the three meander a piece of Highway 50 between Utah and Nevada, a.k.a. “The Loneliest Road in America”. Decimated by former mining corporations and left to rot, both the skeletal remains of these towns and the large expanses of skies provide a strong visual backdrop for director of photography and award winner Tony McGrath to work his magic.
Matt’s mouthy frat-boy rants and Jamie’s constant introspective, socially-conscious questioning provide some authentic banter from writer Mayginnes. Hayes gives an energetic performance as Matt which plays nicely against Day’s more subtle approach.
The movie’s strongest moment comes when the three outsiders spend an evening at a local watering hole in one of the leveled mining towns. After the redneck townies brag about their loyalty to American-made beer, Jamie has to deliver the bad news that even their revered Budweiser has been taken over and is now owned by a European brewing conglomerate.
Unfortunately, the wheels start to fall off as the trio reaches its destination. Upon their arrival in L.A. the travelers visit their long-time chum Girard (Isaiah Musik-Ayala), a moneyed sophisticated guru, and part-time coke head. In addition to his penchant for singing classical opera, he also enjoys playing beer pong with a younger, less heady crowd. This dichotomy seemed unlikely even in the often eclectic atmosphere of Southern California.
The crowd continues to party on coke and booze and Jamie’s apparition in the form of a preachy cowboy does little to save the trip from its predictable, flat-tire of an ending.
Indie music fans will appreciate the soundtrack offerings from Cat Power, Kaskade and a vintage gem from Nancy Wilson but overall, the intended theme of corporate power and greed failed to directly affect any of the characters and thus was rendered inoperable to the audience.

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