Panah Panahi, son and collaborator of embattled filmmaker Jafar Panahi and apprentice to Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami, makes a striking feature debut with this charming, sharp-witted, and deeply moving comic drama. Hit the Road takes the tradition of the Iranian road-trip movie and adds unexpected twists and turns. It follows a family of four – two middle-aged parents and their sons, one a taciturn adult, the other a ebullient six-year-old – as they drive across the Iranian countryside. Over the course of the trip, they bond over memories of the past, grapple with fears of the unknown, and fuss over their sick dog. Unspoken tensions arise and the film builds emotional momentum as it slowly reveals the furtive purpose for their journey. The result is a humanist drama that offers an authentic, often comedic, and deeply sincere observation of an Iranian family preparing to part with one of their own.
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Hit The Road comes to Blu-Ray in a 1080p presentation that is truly a beauty. This takes place in a variety of different landscapes including dry desert expanses and some vibrant green hills, which provides a visually rich experience where you can see an incredible amount of detail. There are also some very striking colors throughout which captures the gorgeous nature of the landscape. There is nothing candy colored here, but Panahi frames the natural world in a way that is just as breathtaking. White levels are handled well with no instances of blooming, and the deep blacks that do not suffer from crush or compression artifacts. The transfer allows for some texture within the costumes and production design that adds a depth to the picture. Skin tones are likewise detailed and natural all around. This presentation does a very nice job.
The Blu-Ray disc comes with both a DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Master Audio track in the original Farsi that works flawlessly in conjunction with this story. The dialogue comes through clearly without ever being overwhelmed by the sound effects or the music. The environmental effects create a really distinct soundscape of nature that makes the world feel more lived-in. The film also uses music in really notable ways, especially in the final moments, which fills the room appropriately. The sound design is not terribly complex, but it remains pinpoint accurate with sounds positioned just right in the mix. This is not an action-heavy film, but activity in the low end adds some textures to certain scenes. This is a great sounding release from top to bottom. There are optional English subtitles provided.
- Trailers: The two-minute trailer for Hit The Road is provided here. There are also trailers for 3 Faces, Jafar Panahi’s Taxi and This Is Not A Film.
Hit The Road is a terrific debut from Panah Panahi, who takes what he has learned from those closest to him and molds it into a naturalistic, thoughtful tale. The film has numerous moments of levity that quickly endear you to this family, but this only makes the more serious elements hit that much harder as the story evolves. The performances are terrific, especially from our young lead who adds a needed buoyancy to the narrative. Kino Lorber has provided a Blu-Ray featuring a great A/V presentation but next to nothing in the way of special features. If you are a fan of international cinema, this is a great introduction to a filmmaker destined to deliver amazing work for years to come. Recommended
Hit The Road is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Kino Lorber has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.