A gorgeous neo-noir road movie with one or two bumps, starring Tye Sheridan, Emory Cohen and Bel Powley
In Christopher Smith’s sun-baked spin on Strangers on a Train, law student Harper (Sheridan) shares a beer with a charismatic hardman (Cohen) in a seedy bar, and before the clean-cut rich-kid knows it, plans are afoot to murder his sleazy stepfather, whom he believes put his mother in a coma. The third part of this triangle is another noir cliché: the stripper with the heart of gold (Powley).
If the setup is over-familiar, then the execution is pleasingly novel, with Smith splintering the narrative off in two directions while literally splitting the screen to tell both strands. The central trio of archetypes also prove as unpredictable as the twisting plot; as with Smith’s previous efforts like Triangle and Black Death, his characters are not as morally straightforward as they first appear.
As Detour speeds towards its unknown destination, Smith plays a narrative trick that feels more like a slap than a twist. But we can handle a few bumps in the road when the film is this gorgeously crafted.