Going on a road trip can be a beautiful, enjoyable adventure, full of happy moments that we can store as memories that last a lifetime, but not all memories are pleasant. Sometimes your companions can get on your nerves, making you want to strangle one another. The emotions are even stronger when it’s family you are travelling with. This is the case with director/writer Panah Panahi’s debut film Hit the Road.
Hit The Road follows the story of a nameless family as they travel across Iran to illegally cross the border. Why they are taking such a risk is unknown at the start. But we do know that they rented the car they’re travelling in. They couldn’t bring their cellphones and they are afraid that someone is following them. In the passenger side of the car is Mom (Pantea Panahiha). She is so expressive that her mood explosively changes throughout the film.
In the back is Dad (Hassan Madjooni), who is is gruff and bearlike, partly because he has a broken leg. And he’s forced to endure a car ride with his youngest son (Rayan Sarlak). He is as hyper of a child as you could expect. The driver of the car is the elder son (Amin Simiar) who is as pensive as he is quiet, like he carries the entire world on his shoulders, which in a way he does. In the back of the car is the family dog, who is slowly dying and may not be able to complete the trip. Hit The Road is their story, about their relationship with one another and the difficulties of letting go.
Hit The Road is an emotional roller coaster, from the slow climb to the top, to the peak just before falling over the edge and starting all over again. You become invested in the family so much that you only want good things for them. Even though yes, throughout the film you get a strong forbidding sense that it won’t end the way you want. The acting is strong by all four principal actors. But it’s the energetic Sarlak who may get the most attention for his unrelenting hyper-active skills.
Direct Panah Panahi had some big shoes to fill, being the son of acclaimed filmmaker Jafar Panahi who has won several awards all across the globe will do that. He doesn’t shy away from making bold decisions however. These decisions affect not only the story itself, but in the cinematographic shots and camera angles, to the music and dialogue as well. This is just his first film. But his talent has already brought him out of any shadow he may have been in.