Hit the Road
An Iranian family take a road trip that features many more twists than those in the road, in Panah Panahi’s hugely impressive directorial debut.
A family are on a journey in a borrowed car. We don’t know them all by name, just their relation to each other. And the destination remains a mystery but is one that fills each member who knows of it with apprehension. There’s the mother, up front, sat next to the driver, her eldest son, whose silence hints at a barely concealed turbulence. The father, his leg in a cast, sits behind, next to the irrepressible younger son, a Duracell battery of kinetic energy. And in the very back is the family dog, suffering an illness that’s being kept from the younger sibling. As the conversations pan out, there are movie and pop references galore, but all are underpinned with a tension that hints at the reason for the trip.
The son of acclaimed filmmaker Jafar, Panahi’s first feature is a supremely confident drama, revitalising and reworking the tropes of the road movie, while offering a warmly humane portrait of family dynamics. Like Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation, Hit the Road is a rejoinder to clichéd portraits of Iranian life, highlighting the universality of family relationships, yet remaining sensitively attuned to the particulars of Iranian life.