The first thing I noticed about Noam Kroll’s Shadows on the Road was the film’s fantastic cinematography. The opening shot of the Pacific Ocean at dawn immediately sucked me in, and I just felt that I was in for something incredible. I correctly guessed that this would be another indie road trip movie based on the film’s title. There are thousands of them out there because it’s a tried-and-true formula that is relatively cheap to pull off.
It puts the focus on the characters rather than elaborate set pieces and makes the audience feel like they’re also along for the ride. I understand why filmmakers do it, and I don’t roll my eyes at them. Some of the best independent films I’ve reviewed here at Film Threat have been indie road trip movies, and Shadows on the Road sets itself apart from the rest with its beautiful imagery and well-written characters.
Newcomer Morgan Makana is an actress I’m hoping to see a lot more. She pulls off her dialogue in a charming, yet believable, way that makes her captivating to watch. Apparently, this is her first film role, and I would never have known had it not been for IMDb. Her counterpart, Flavia Watson, shines here as well. The story has a twist at the end that I don’t want to give away, but it involves a very sensitive subject, especially in today’s social landscape. This particularly delicate issue is thankfully covered with respect and realism, which is much appreciated.
“…a young woman living on the streets with a goal of getting down the coast to stay with her brother in Mexico.”
Watson plays Zoe, a young woman living on the streets with a goal of getting down the coast to stay with her brother who lives in Mexico. One of the film’s earliest scenes has Zoe flag down a ride while hitchhiking. Her body language and attitude toward passing drivers more than competently shows that she’s untrusting and obviously dealing with some sort of severe trauma. I’m not going to give away what that trauma is, but it makes the scene uncomfortably tense.