Welcome to the open road – a place of ‘adventure, discovery and holding in your pee’. In Felipe Di Poi Tamargo’s brilliantly inventive Rhode Island School of Design grad film That Long & Lonesome Road to Grandma’s we’re invited to join Sue and Kath (and Sue’s mom) on a road trip that sees our young protagonists meet a “dangerous” hitchhiker, a couple of rookie cops and a gang of badass bikers.
Whenever trying to explain exactly why I’ve picked a film for Short of the Week, I often go back to our submission guide and check that a film matches the criteria we lay out in our ‘What We Look For’ section. Boiling it down to three attributes; Originality (Head), Emotion (Heart) and Craft (Hand), for me That Long & Lonesome Road to Grandma’s is a near perfect example of what makes a Short of the Week film.
In terms of originality, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the road trip narrative was one that had already been traveled too many times, but it’s to the director’s credit that That Long & Lonesome Road to Grandma’s feels fresh and distinct. Sure, the crux of the narrative is a little derivative, but it’s the quirks that makes this feel so damn original. From the character design to dialogue, Writer/Director Di Poi Tamargo has laced his short with so many imaginative touches, they all add up to one unforgettable viewing experience.
When you mention emotion in films, the default response is to expect to be left curled up in the fetal position bawling your eyes out and this certainly isn’t what you get with That Long & Lonesome Road to Grandma’s. Instead the sensation I had swirling inside of me after watching this film was one of pure happiness. Despite its absurdity, this is a surprisingly relatable short that is full of characters easy to connect to. Yet on a more basic level, it’s just a joy to watch! It’s playful, frivolous demeanor is infectious and this is such an under-appreciated response to filmmaking, it’s certainly one worthy of championing.
Like with the originality of the film, it’d be easy to under-appreciate the craft of That Long & Lonesome Road to Grandma’s, but again it’s the unusual touches that really make it stand out as a film. Purposefully rough around the edges, Di Poi Tamargo’s style perfectly compliments the deceptively nonchalant approach to the rest of his filmmaking, but creative, stylistic flourishes like this don’t come easy. From the inanimate characters in backgrounds to the lack of detail in certain “props” (the horoscopes in the magazines or the pictures in the Hotel) this isn’t lazy design, but a carefully considered aesthetic that feels like a real labour of love.
So there you have it. Not only an explanation of why I truly love this film (sorry for taking so long to feature it Felipe), but an insight into how we pick films for Short of the Week – hope you found both insightful and inspiring.