MovieMonday: The Road Movie

As usual, I have posted a video trailer at the top here, but I can’t recommend it.  The trailer is awful.  The movie, not so bad.

This is called a documentary, but it is just a strung-together set of vignettes — okay, dashcam videos — that were shared on social media in Russia between 2011 and 2016.

Apparently dashcams, which in my experience are associated with police traffic stops, are popular in Russia for insurance purposes and perhaps for protection against crazy people or the police.

If the film’s concept is wacky, well, so is the reality.  The roads shown here are two-lane affairs with narrow shoulders, heavily populated with large trucks, and frequently snowy.

There are crashes of all kinds, fiery explosions, fire along the sides of roads and a deliberately lit fire by a woman fueling up her vehicle at a gas station.  There are trucks sliding from one lane to another, fishtailing vehicles, multi-car smashes, animal encounters, soldiers hand-washing a tank and a man discussing prices with a prostitute.  And much more.

The videos also include conversations among people in the vehicles approaching the remarkable scenes.  Every once in a while someone says something like, “Oh, my lord.”  Mostly, it seems that people in Russia are like Americans, whose most favorite word now is some variation of “fuck.”  A little discouraging, that.

It may be that havoc on the roads, as seen in the film, is common in Russia because Russians are new to the driving experience.  I looked this up.  In 2005, there were 180 cars per 1,000 people in Russia; the number had risen to 315 in 2017, approximately equivalent to per capita US car ownership in 1950.

Yes, it’s a strange idea for a movie, and, no, I wouldn’t be interested in seeing many other dashcam features.  Still, it is not overlong at 70 minutes, and it has many funny moments.  It’s also an offbeat look at the non-urban parts of a country where American tourists have seen little more than Moscow and St. Petersburg.

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