The directorial debut of Cambodia-raised 20-year-old Brendan Moriarty has come a cropper with the critics in the US, after his movie The Road to Freedom opened last Friday.
According to the New York Times critic Jeanette Catsoulis, the film is “Loosely based on the fate of Errol Flynn’s only son, Sean (woodenly portrayed by Joshua Fredric Smith), a photojournalist who disappeared in Cambodia in 1970” and is “a bona-fide howler.”
Indeed Catsoulis seems to relish crucifying the movie in print. “Right from the get-go maintaining a straight face is impossible,” she declares, going on to condemn the flick: “Clogged with grandiose pronouncements and bleeding-heart speeches, this telling of Sean’s ill-fated journey drags us through miles of jungle and reams of stilted, soul-sucking dialogue.
“Idyllic brown families frolic in his path, and a sit-down with a Buddhist monk facilitates an orgy of clunky platitudes. Even after Sean and his colleague, Dana Stone (Scott Maguire), are captured by the Khmer Rouge, the film refuses resuscitation; instead, the prisoners go fishing – and, sadly, continue to talk.”
Summing up, she says “This starry-eyed, leaden-tongued film fizzles. David Mun’s photography is lush and lucid, but the script (by Margie Rogers and Thomas Schade) is nothing short of an embarrassment.”
The scathing review ends with a touch of humour: “The Road to Freedom is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Angry guerrillas and lofty subordinate clauses.”
Meanwhile Los Angeles Times critic Kevin Thomas, who saw the movie at Laemmle’s Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills, was kinder.
His review consisted mainly of a storyline rundown and this summation: “While it is impressive that Moriarty was as capable as he was, making his feature debut at age 20, his film needs more shape, more nuance and more punch. Its strongest asset is its gorgeous natural scenery.”