Desperation Road Image

Desperation Road

By Alan Ng | October 16, 2023

NOW IN THEATERS AND VOD! In her directorial debut, Nadine Crocker takes on adapting Michael Farris Smith’s southern-noir novel, Desperation Road. Our tale follows its two leads trying to start a new life in a “rough and tumble” Mississippi town after closing a very dark chapter of their own. Russell (Garrett Hedlund) is an ex-con just released from his long prison sentence for drunk driving that resulted in the death of townie Larry’s (Ryan Hurst) son. Larry is ready and confronts Russell with a serious pounding for his trouble. He warns Russell to always look over his shoulder.

Maben (Willa Fitzgerald) is the single mother of her young daughter Annalee (Pyper Braun). Without a dollar to her name, Maben returns to her hometown in hopes of a fresh start. While staying at a motel, Maben follows the example of the other ladies of the motel and turns tricks at the nearby truck stop.

“Maben returns to her hometown in hopes of a fresh start. While staying at a motel, Maben…turns tricks at the nearby truck stop.”

After said trick, Maben is arrested by one of the town deputies, and instead of going to jail, he rapes Maben and calls two buddies to join the fun. Before they arrive, Maben grabs the deputy’s gun and kills him. She then returns to the motel for Annalee and runs. Now the pair must lay low in hopes that they are not implicated in the deputy’s murder.

The noir portion of our story begins when Russell and Maben meet in a bizarre twist of fate. When the sheriff arrives at a shelter Maben’s been living in, she pulls the deputy’s gun on Russell and forces him to drive the two out of town. Russell attempts to calm Maben down and convinces her to go to his father Mitchell’s house (Mel Gibson) for rest and a meal. It’s here that the intersection between Russell and Maben is slowly revealed.

The overriding theme of Desperation Road is forgiveness and redemption. Russell is a convict, who served his time and paid what was owed to the state, but for Larry, he can’t forgive or forget. As we follow Larry’s story, he has become a drunk since the death of his son. He now lives with his brother after being kicked out of the house by his wife and drunkenly shows up at his other son’s baseball game, causing a scene.

Desperation Road (2023)

Directed: Nadine Crocker

Written: Michael Farris Smith

Starring: Will Fitzgerald, Garrett Hedlund, Mel Gibson, Ryan Hurst, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Desperation Road Image

"…Gibson brings the gravitas to Mitchell, laying a strong foundation for the entire tale."

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