As a director and author, Sally Potter is dedicated to the topic of senile dementia and the effects of the disease on those affected and their families. But their father-daughter drama WAYS OF LIFE – THE ROADS NOT TAKE leaves a lot of potential. We reveal why in our review.
Leo meets Molly’s mother Rita (Laura Linney).
Although the moments in the here and now are portrayed in an emphatically realistic manner and the scenes in Leo’s imagination are much more artificially staged – characterized by particularly bright colors or much faster movements in camera work and editing – “Paths of Life” never presents these moments in a too positive way. On the contrary: in terms of content, they even largely express a self-flagellating streak, which Leo subsequently takes out on himself. What’s a shame about this interesting examination of this facet of dementia is that Sally Potter doesn’t make anything of it. Ultimately, we don’t learn any more about Leo or Molly’s state of mind than the undoubtedly excellently choreographed images show. The dialogues between father and daughter, but also between father and his other acquaintances that he has made over the course of his life (or in his imagination), are so meaningless that in the end you can’t avoid the comparison to Malick to be used rather negatively. The only difference is that his films never tell generally prescribed stories, but rather aim to ensure that the audience interprets their thoughts into what is shown. Potter’s film, however, does the same without intending to due to blatant narrative weaknesses. Sally Potter actually wants to tell the intimate fate of two people in “Ways of Life”. But instead of saying “that,” she simply says “something.”
“Sally Potter actually wants to tell the intimate fate of two people in “Ways of Life”. But instead of saying “that,” she simply says “something.”
Nevertheless, “Paths of Life – The Roads Not Taken” is touching at times, especially because Javier Bardem manages with small gestures to make tangible the desperation of a man who does everything to escape his fate and Elle Fanning, who sacrifices herself here the same fights. It’s a shame that we don’t know more about either of them. Then you could perhaps understand the complex relationship between father and daughter a little better.
Conclusion: Sally Potter succeeds with her melancholic, dreamy dementia drama “Paths of Life – The Roads Not Taken” about the rapprochement between father and son on the back of a serious illness. But their staging style gets in the way of the intended seriousness and sometimes seems esoteric.
“Ways of Life – The Road Not Taken” can be seen in USA cinemas from August 13th.