Broken Roads: Film Review

This affecting if overlong family drama suffers from excessive length and an overwrought treatment.

Oscar nominee Sally Kirkland stars in this indie family drama.

Veteran Oscar nominated actress Sally Kirkland (Anna) stars in Broken Roads, an affecting family drama that suffers from over-indulgence on the part of its feature debuting director/writer Justin Chambers. What might have made a strong Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation has here been unaccountably stretched out to a punishing two-and-a-half hour length. That the actors shout a good portion of the dialogue only adds to the overwrought atmosphere.

The story begins with 17-year-old Aldo (Aidan Bristow) suffering a car crash that kills his mother. The grief-stricken teen is thus forced to move to a Colorado small town to live with the estranged grandmother (Kirkland) he’s never met.

The angst-ridden, perpetually angry Aldo and the stern grandmother immediately find themselves at odds, engaging in an endless series of petty squabbles exacerbated by quick tempers and raised voices. After an interminable period they finally reach a truce for reasons not particularly well-defined. Soon the suddenly affable Aldo is even enjoying the bloom of romance with a comely young neighbor (Shoshana Bush). Virtually the only other characters seen onscreen are the grandmother’s common sense-talking best friend, played by TV/radio talk show personality Rolanda Watts, and Aldo’s long-absent father (Ross Marquand), who makes a pivotal appearance late in the proceedings.  

Under the filmmakers’ undisciplined hand, nearly every scene runs too long, with the repetitive dialogue and cliché-ridden situations adding to the stultifying effect. While the basic storyline is reasonably effective, it simply doesn’t justify the extended treatment it’s been afforded here.  

The strong acting on display provides some compensation, with Kirkland and Bristow delivering powerfully emotional performances and the fresh-faced Bush highly appealing as the love interest.

Among the film’s many executive producers is Jonathan Lipnicki, best known for his child-actor appearances in such films as Jerry Maguire and Stuart Little

Production: No Way Out Films.

CAST: Sally Kirkland, Aidan Bristow, Shoshana Bush, Rolanda Watts, Ross Marquand.

Director/screenwriter: Justin Chambers.

Producers: William Alexander IV, Justin Chambers, Karina Diaz.

Executive producers: William Alexander IV, Linda Bulone, Alvero Chambers, Justin Chambers, Karina Diaz, Jimmy Gelhaar, Mark Harnett, Jonathan Lipnicki, Jill Massara, Michael Massara, Jela Oba Okpara, Rey Rodis, Daniel Slayden, Kenneth Wallace, Elton Wise.

Director of photography: Michael Moghaddem.

Editors: Justin Chambers, Karina Diaz.

Production designer: Malia Myers.

Composer: Jimmy Gelhaar.

Not rated, 151 min.