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Case Number 16915

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El Camino

Life Size Entertainment // 2008 // 85 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 29th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson named his cat El Camino. That's all there is to the story.

The Charge

There is a home for each of us, for some it's just harder to find.

Opening Statement

This character-driven film tracks three wildly different personalities as they embark on a road trip to bury a mutual friend. Along the way, they get to know each other and grow as people and stuff.

Facts of the Case

Gray (Christopher Denham) is the bad boy, a guy with a crap relationship with his father and consumed by anger that flares with a few sideways words. Elliot (Leo Fitzpatrick) is an awkward, soft-spoken man, the damaged product of a foster care system who's still learning his place in society. Finally, there's Lily (Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men), a stripper from a broken home who doesn't know what she wants. All three shared a friend who recently passed away from an illness and to honor him they're heading south of the border.

Cram all three into a Volvo, send them hundreds of miles to Mexico, and watch the magic happen.

The Evidence

El Camino is a quiet meditation on three intersecting lives, bound by a common tragedy. I'm down with it. This is an excellent film. Depressing, sure, and not the biggest shot in the arm, but absolutely worth seeing, if you're pining for a well-executed character piece.

It's all about Gray, Lily and Elliot, and how their interactions shape them from the start of their trip together to the understated finale. There aren't any big twists, contrivances, or reveals, but there is movement in the characters, evolutionary changes brought upon by the influence of the others. In a way, that's even more dramatic than a sudden about-face or a shocking turn of events.

El Camino feels very grounded, its characters broken in some manner and not all reach a happy ending, yet I am utterly comfortable in saying they each ended up exactly where they were supposed to. Their fate struck me as organic and not at all forced. Which is kind of a big deal, because director Eric S. Weigel has made El Camino to address the concept of home.

This sense of "belonging" is evident throughout the film's trajectory, with Elliot, Gray, and Lily each struggling to determine where it is they're supposed to be. Of course, the answer to that is "wherever they decide they want to be," and the film ushers them into these places in an organic way. It's all powered by a trio of dynamite performances.

Give this a whirl, if you want the anti-Transformers 2. El Camino is a small, deeply satisfying emotional saga and worthy of your time.

The DVD is simple: a solid 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and a 5.1 surround mix, deleted scenes with director's commentary, and a bonus short film.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

There is another prevailing message here: everyone's parents suck. That's kind of a downer.

Closing Statement

This is a trip worth taking.

The Verdict

Not Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 75
Acting: 90
Story: 85
Judgment: 86

Perp Profile

Studio: Life Size Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Drama
• Independent

Distinguishing Marks

• Deleted Scenes
• Short Film

Accomplices

• IMDb








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