Detour (2016)

Starring: Tye Sheridan, Emory Cohen, Bel Powley, John Lynch, Stephen Moyer

Directed by: Christopher Smith

Rating: 1 2 3 and a half

'Films are either Edward Hopper or Caravaggio,' says director Christopher Smith at the UK premier of his latest movie Detour at the Glasgow Film Festival. And while his previous oeuvre has definitely veered towards dark shadows and chiaroscuro, this latest is a sun-drenched psychological thriller shot in glorious, glowing Technicolor.

I loved Creep, Severance and Black Death, but was less keen on Triangle (Melissa George running around a ship with an axe while the plot shifts and creaks around her like a galleon). So I was a slightly concerned to hear that with Detour, Smith was returning to the complex, reality-shifting structuring of the latter. Would this attempt sink like the Titanic, or swim like a shark?

Tye Sheridan as Harper in Detour

Law student Harper (Tye Sheridan) is a bit of a mess. His mother's in a coma and he blames his gold-digging stepfather for the accident that put her there. Wallowing in grief, he gets drunk in a local bar, where he meets bad boy Johnny (Emory Cohen), who agrees to travel to Vegas with him to bump off his inconvenient relative, with trashy girlfriend Cherry (Bel Powley) in tow.

Like Strangers on a Train meets True Romance, Detour is a sunshine bright film noir (a new one on me), a breathless road movie that sees Harper pile bad decision upon bad decision as events twist and turn. And certainly these twists are handled more deftly in Detour than in Triangle. But still, Smith is no Christopher Nolan (who seems to have the knack of making even the most tangled plots make sense – to me, anyway, and as my husband will confirm (wearily), I am notoriously bad at following thrillers). So yes, the plot is a bit confusing, and coupled with the fact that none of the characters are really all that likeable, I found it hard to care that much what happened. But if you're a fan of twisted film noir thrillers (and are better at following plots then me) I'd definitely take time to visit Detour.

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