The Roads Not Taken: An interview with Sally Potter
The Roads Not Taken is the latest film from British filmmaker and screenwriter Sally Potter (Orlando, The Party). It follows Javier Bardem as Leo living in New York, suffering from an unnamed disease, understood to be dementia. His loving and devoted daughter Molly (Elle Fanning) visits and struggles through a day trying to take him to routine appointments, facing frustration with the way he is treated and dismissed by others as well as reaching him as her mind drifts away from her.
We then visit in parallel the other scenarios Leo dreams he could be in at that very moment should he have taken different paths in his life – the roads not taken, including married to his first love in Mexico and in Greece – had he left his daughter behind to follow his dream to be a writer.
Nominated for the Golden Bear at the Berlin film festival, the film is not always an easy watch but a visceral and affecting representation of the experience of dementia, owing in particular to the intensity of Bardem’s committed performance and a strong and convincing chemistry between him and Fanning as father and daughter. The A-list cast is completed with top notch appearances from Salma Hayek and Laura Linney in supporting roles.
The starkly contrasting locations give the impression of being transported at will to the different worlds Leo’s mind takes him to, away from the urban bustle of New York to the dusty roads of Mexico and to the stunning azul waters and towering mountains of Greece.
We had the privilege of sitting down with Potter – albeit virtually – to discuss the very personal story that inspired the film, working with such an A-list cast, particularly Javier Bardem and Elle Fanning in the central roles, and how the she believes the film’s themes may take on even further significance in relation to the pandemic we’re living through. She also shared the importance of location in the film and her own reflections on the future of the film industry as we emerge from lockdown.
Photo: Tommy Griffin
The Roads Not Taken is released in select cinemas on 11th September 2020. Read our review here.
For information about dementia and support visit alzheimers.org.uk or call Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Connect Support Line on 0333 150 3456.