Open Road is a small movie, shambling toward a valiant but unfulfilled goal of imbuing the kind of romance movie generally aimed at 17-year-old girls with a bit of adult integrity. Although there's a decent and reasonably complex story here about a young woman who is searching for an emotional anchor yet pushes away all of the people who would be happy to provide one, director Marcio Garcia and screenwriter Julia Camara get bogged down too many side threads that take the movie away from that story and into more conventional boy-meets-girl territory, and cliche beats like Angie angrily flinging paint on a canvas in an attempt to let off some steam.
The first crucial weak spot in M. Garcia and Camara's movie is the editing and passage of time. Both director and screenwriter would like to draw out some of the mystery of Angie's character, so the first twenty minutes of the movie hop back and forth from the forest where Angie lives to her diner job without much in the way of explanation. Although it eventually becomes clear that these parts are intentionally vague, the film may lose people among awkward cuts that inadvertently suggest missing scenes and rely too much on the audience's ability to assume or fill in the blanks. Passage of time is a big factor here -- sometimes the characters appear to have moved forward a few weeks or even a few months without any indication on M. Garcia's part, and a traumatic flashback sequence is not only drawn out to no benefit, but probably straight up unnecessary.
It also doesn't help that M. Garcia is stuck with Belle. Although the character's naturally cold nature helps a little, Belle's flat performance still creates a bit of a void in the middle of the movie. When paired up with an equally bland Egglesfield, the movie slows to a crawl, ditching Angie's journey for a boring romance that hits all the expected beats. Juliette Lewis is also little more than financing bait in a catty role that she does well but could have been fulfilled by anyone. Only Andy Garcia, charming as ever, makes much of an impression. A. Garcia brings out the best in Belle, and it would've been beneficial to build more of the story around their friendship.
Even at a slim 86 minutes, Open Road feels like it overstays its welcome, dragging its feet into threads that distract from the primary story. When all is said and done, what could've been a small, charming film about two natural drifters is little more than a formula picture saved by Andy Garcia's participation. The only interesting thing about the movie is the fact that it went direct-to-video in the United States; perhaps this is a sign that producers have realized there are more people renting movies than those looking for the next Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal movies.
The Video and Audio
A DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is more than adequate for this release, rendering conversations and light music with a welcoming vibrancy. The occasional car engine may activate the lower levels, but for the most part this is a very simple film, aimed right at the middle range, although I appreciate that it doesn't sound overly cheap, like some DTV mixes can. English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing and French and Spanish subtitles are also provided. A few scenes in the film are in Portuguese, and subtitles for those scenes are presented as yellow captions burned into the image.
Trailers for Mental, Frankie Go Boom, Mama, and The Awakening play before the main menu. An original trailer for Open Road is also included. As a side note, this disc has no main menu; a note informing the user to use the pop-up function to access the bonus feature appears after the autoplay trailers, before the film automatically begins playing.