To make a road movie without a destination seems like the waste of a vital resource. Yet that is what Mike Hansen has done in his new film, which seldom picks the road often traveled. The heroes of The Light You Follow are obviously troubled, and they pick up a distinctly troubled hitchhiker. This prompts the two to ask, “Where are you going?” “West,” he says mysteriously, as his Hawaiian shirt and polished looks heighten the mystery. What is this guy doing at a gas station in the middle of nowhere? Why does he get into a beat-up Honda with a couple of galumphing hipsters? What the hell is going on with that techno soundtrack?
These are the questions this movie presents. And these are just a few of the revelations this odd, quirky and pleasurably perplexing adventure has to offer.
“Two Jewish best friends, off to an undisclosed location, decide it might be ‘cool’ to bring a knife-toting stranger along for the ride.”
Things pick up at the pick-up—like all great road movies, we are thrown right into the action. Two Jewish best friends, off to an undisclosed location, decide it might be “cool” to bring a knife-toting stranger along for the ride. (It’s almost as if they hadn’t seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre). But alas, he’s no killer. If anything, he kills the pair’s sense of urgency. They find that their voracious appetite for far-flung voyages is perfectly satisfied by the man in the backseat.
Taking the backseat is sanity along with pacing, engaging characters, and narrative coherence. But what it lacks in sanity, it makes up for with entertaining nonsense. You will be eager to watch this unfold. To see the two stalk, this Twain-like character after they drop him off. He fishes knee deep in lakes, wanders the hills undersaturated blue skies, digs up graves for long lost treasure. He’s unbound to the problems of everyday life.
Is he the “light” of the title? Coop and Tim (Cooper Currier and Tommy Dadmun) sure seem to think so. As they humorously stalk him around the country.
“…what it lacks in sanity, it makes up for with entertaining nonsense.”
Still, it’s clear Hansen is after something deeper than two trying-to-be-cool-but-not middle-aged men following this handsome wanderer. Could this “following” be a pointed metaphor regarding the social media age? There’s plenty of talk about cellphones, technology, and the ever-changing world. Not to mention discussions on invasion of privacy, a subject ever increasing among our young ones. What Hansen is telling us through Coop and Tim’s excellent adventure, is that no matter how obsessed you become with a person, no matter how long you follow someone on Instagram or how deep you scroll down their history, you will never actually know them without actually getting to know them.
The Light You Follow (2019) Directed by Mike Hansen. Written by Mike Hansen. Starring Cooper Conely-Currier, Portland Thomas, Tommy Dadmun