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The Scenic Route1978

  • 4.0
  • passes the bechdel test
Making relationships work is murder, sometimes literally, in Mark Rappaport's 1978 feature, a Strindbergian battle between (and within) the sexes that filters melodrama through the gallery sensibility of 1970s video art and myriad other cultural reference points. Coolly self-possessed Estelle (Randy Danson), on the rebound from a bitterly terminated marriage, finds brief new partnership in the company of Paul (Kevin Wade). That affair is already past when she has another companion uneasily forced on her with the surprise arrival of Lena (Marilyn Jones), an unstable, formerly institutionalized sister who's apparently killed a man with a kitchen knife. As much rivals as confidantes, the two women make queasy housemates, especially once Lena's casual pickups encompass her sister's ex-husband and, later, Paul. The latter sticks around to form a tense ménage à trois in psychological if not necessarily physical terms. Violence always seems just around the corner in this world where love is inseparable from suspicion and hostility, and where attraction to other people fights the self-preserving instinct to stay alone. Underlining the characters' disconnect are the environments they inhabit, which are changeable and illusory (Rappaport's love of projections is fully present here). But then our protagonists themselves are objets d'art subject to a creator's whims, whether they listen intently to grand opera, mimic famous paintings or dance at an incongruous length. - Dennis Harvey

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Member Reviews (4)

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top reviewer

*I do not know the intent of the filmmaker = reviews are typically nothing but opinion and speculation. This one is no different.*

I can't believe anyone who has an account to this website would hate this movie.

There are a lot of similarities to Bergman's Persona - but this has more character, an extended role for the man, mythological references, bright beautiful colors, and a lot of bitter humor. This is a really good film - and it's short enough that I want to rewatch it already. God I think I have enough time to...

I think some people just don't get Mark Rappaport's films, although I have to admit for someone who connected almost immediately this seems somewhat strange to me even though I understand it. It's subtle though - this is a fine wine of film - or better yet a scotch. Some don't like the added smokiness that comes with class, or that the glass you'll be sipping from looks to be a flat wall with stars on it.

I however do, and I'm thoroughly enjoying the entire filmography. If you find yourself laughing out loud at even a single scene in this you'll know you've arrived - you will be at the proverbial level - and it's quite enjoyable here (welcome! Also! You can never leave! But you also won't want to leave anyway - so it's cool).

Why don't more people know about this guy? Wes Anderson seems to have commercialized a lot of the things happening here, although these interest me more - they're more nuanced and as a viewer I respect them and they definitely respect me.

Just honest investigation of life, relationships, love and film. What is better than that?

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top reviewer

Quietly interesting. The alliance of verbal and visual narrative is almost hypnotic in it's tedium. So thoroughly late 70's that it is almost impossible to believe that it was produced in 78, and not 20 years later.

Good.

Watching grass grow would have been more entertaining.