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Passenger Side Film Review - an Official Selection of the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival

By Keisha7

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Joel Bissonnette (l.) and Adam scott (r.) in "Passenger Side"

In Matt Bissonnette's Passenger Side, reclusive, fiction writer Michael (Adam Scott) knew it was a bad idea to answer the phone.  But eventually he did, answering the call that he knew would be his brother, recovering addict Tobey (Joel Bissonnette), needing something. After an initial and emphatic NO, Michael has his first morning’s cup of tea, puts the phone back on the hook and is ready to face whatever Tobey wants this time.

The request seems simple enough. Tobey has job interviews and errands and needs Michael to drive him around for a day. Knowing that nothing with Tobey is as advertised, and know he would feel the wraith and power of their mother’s guilt, he caves.

The brothers travel from one end of Los Angeles to the other, making stops that seem too random to make much sense and certainly don’t seem to be any place of real potential employment for Tobey. Just when Michael has decided that – given Tobey’s history – they are on some elaborate drug run. So Tobey must confess: he is on a quest to find the love of his life, Theresa. Despite their differences in temperament and ambitions, who could not get behind that? Alas, the two brothers ride out the day, renewing their fractured relationship, encountering various colorful characters along the way.

It's Tobey and Michael to the rescue in "Passenger Side"

Primarily a road movie, Passenger Side is a gentle yet focused study of how people in one’s own family can be so vastly different from oneself. Filled with smart, funny banter, the star of the movie is definitely the chemistry between the leads. It is very humorous to see Michael try and keep his cool in the various unlikely situations while resisting Tobey’s suspiciously Zen attitude towards the world. Shot in a very clean, concise style focused predominately status shots, there are lots of traveling POV shots of scenic LA and freeways. Because the film does not aspire to be a very grand film, it succeeds in being a very intimate and personal film, doubling its universal appeal for anyone who has a sibling, or perhaps needs a nudge to move out of their comfort zone to live a little.

Passenger Side is in the Narrative Competition category in the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival, happening now all over Westwood Village through June 28, 2009.


Published on Dec 31, 1969

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