Long Dumb Road: Hannah Fidell’s Buddy Film-Road Comedy

Sundance Film Fest 2018–Hannah Fidell’s The Long Dumb Road, an odd-couple buddy film/road comedy, marks a departure from her earlier work, such as the 2013 Festival thriller A Teacher.

It offers a rare leading role to Jason Mantzoukas, best known supporting roles in films such as Sleeping with Other People and sitcoms like The League.

Nathan (Tony Revolori) is a teenager leaving his middle-class family’s Austin, Texas to drive cross-country to attend art school in Los Angeles.  A car trouble leads to various encounters, including the recently fired mechanic Richard (Mantzoukas).

The two soon hit the open road for a series of misadventures that include bar fights, education on the Fast & Furious franchise, meeting Richard’s lost love (Casey Wilson), friendly sisters they meet at a motel (Grace Gummer and Taissa Farmiga), and a psychopathic family man (Ron Livingston) whose actions send the travelers on unexpected path.

The chemistry developed by the two actors elevates the material, which is often unavoidably episodic.

Fidell said that the inspiration for the story came from her friend Nat Sanders (editor on Moonlight), who’d gone on a Kerouac-inspired road trip and picked up a pair of homeless men. She related how she pitched her film as “a big studio-like comedy that looks like No Country For Old Men.”

Mantzoukas stated that when he read the script, Revolori was already attached. “For me this is the kind of movie that I love—a road movie that’s a two-hander.  It was such fun script, and then meeting with Hannah was super-exciting and I was excited to be a part of it.”