April 12, 2008
Netflix DVD
76 Minutes
Kelly Reichardt

“Sorry is nothing but worn out joy”

Slow as molasses (sometimes in a good way, sometimes not) story of two men, former sorta-hippies friends who have grown apart, who get together for a night in the woods in search of a hot springs outside of Portland, Oregon.

A film like this could only take place in the woods in Oregon, I think. The film captures how two best friends can become different from each other. One (Mark) by selling out–that is, starting a family and owning a Volvo. The other (Kurt) by continuing to live in his late 30s exactly how he lived as a 20something in borrowed houses doing odd jobs.

The two men have an easy familiarity that comes with years of friendship. They talk about news big and small, about triumphs and tragedies, all while in search of a hot springs. The guy with the Volvo says something early that is important to certain men of a certain age “I sure could use a night in the woods.” He finds his tattered tent and sleeping bag underneath some potting soil, happy about being able to use it again. His pregnant partner knows that he needs to re-experience a night of camping–we get the feeling she’s no stranger to the outdoors herself. He seems hesitant to leave her and he checks in periodically using a cell phone–more proof that he’s becoming “The Man.”

The plot isn’t much. The two men leave around noon and return the following evening. They talk while driving, they find a place to sleep, they eat at one of the hundreds of diners I myself have enjoyed in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. All the roads are two lane, the traffic minimal, the skies cloudy, the trees magnificent. A road trip where nothing happens. You wonder where all those psuedo-hippies you went to college with ended up? Here are two examples.

Beer is drunk. Pot is smoked. Campfires are built. Hikes are taken. Bodies are soaked. The trip can either be a reintroduction of two friends, or the last chance for that friendship to continue.

The photography seems to drip with the moisture of the trees. The conversation seems natural, the actors are unknown. Absolutely no excitement. It’s better than that. This is perhaps the most relaxing film I’ve ever seen. And those hot springs are magical.

*** Wilmington
A Schwarzbaum
A- Tobias
8.4 Metacritic
6.5 IMDB


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Written by Michael W. Cummins