The Road – A Story of Life and Death
Eighteen months in the making, The Road: A Story of Life and Death is another addition to Marc Isaac’s body of documentary work.
The film begins with young Irish woman Keelta leaving her home in Holyhead, clutching her mother’s blanket, a pillow and a suitcase. Her reason for leaving Ireland: “There’s nothing here anymore. No work, nothing.”
These words crystallise the ethos of the documentary – all the subjects have moved on in order to pursue a better life in London, with the hope of earning money or simply finding a new place they can call their home. They vary in generation and in nationality: there is the 95-year-old Peggy, half-blind and among the waves of Jews who left Germany during the Nazi occupation; Iqbal, a hotel porter from Kashmir; Bridget, an eccentric ex-air hostess who runs a language school; and lastly Billy, an Irish alcoholic whose appearance physically declines on screen.
The locations used in the film are unusual for both documentary and fictional feature films. They are the forgotten parts of the city, places like Cricklewood and Burnt Oak. There is a definite feeling of rawness attached to The Road, but also heart. It is a piece that is tender at its core. Isaacs clearly cares for his subjects and wants to learn more about them and, through the course of The Road, we do too.
Despite the director’s best intentions, he does at times come off as patronising, for instance in asking if someone misses his wife after not seeing her for two years, to which the obvious answer is “Of course”. There is also a moment when he quotes Chaucer, which comes off as unnecessary and pretentious. Either way, this documentary is an absorbing study of isolation and loneliness in the city. Furthermore it encourages its audience to think with more care about those we pass by on a daily basis, and for a short film, that in itself is a credible achievement.
The Road: A Story of Life and Death is released in selected cinemas on 22nd February 2013.
Watch the trailer for The Road: A Story of Life and Death here: