No Right Turn (2009)
Directed by David Noel Bourke
Every now and then we here at the jaded viewer take a break from reviewing the horror and grindhouse and delve into the indie scene. Why? Because indie movies from every country are where filmmakers still bring creativity to cinema.
And the indie spirit is where you can find a movie like No Right Turn, a full fledge fairy tale pulp crime thriller that can only be described as eclectically unique and darkly comedic.
You'll get the feeling somebody's been eating your porridge and sleeping in your bed.
Well this is my first review of a David Bourke movie. I did not see his previous effort Last Exit so I'm coming in fresh on his work. I've never seen anybody blend pulp crimeyness, film noir and fantasy all together. Does this soup of genres work? You better believe it does.
No Right Turn is like a stage play come to life, depicting the seediness of Denmark's underworld and relying on four characters that pull us into the mystery filled with twisty twizzlers and shady betrayal.
What made this work so well? Let's explore.
Nina is the voluptuously alluring girlfriend of Johnny, a charming but delusional crook.
To escape from her weary life she casually sleeps with an old friend, Teddy, but is fed up of her current lifestyle especially the drunken dreams of Johnny. One night after an argument with Johnny, she storms home where she is abducted by a pair of thugs and is fortunately rescued by a timid and guilt-ridden girl, Monella.
Even though they are from two very different worlds, they quickly become close friends and sooth each other lives.
Johnny hearing about Nina's ordeal with the thugs, sadly attempts to win her heart back by going on a crazy revenge spree.This scares Nina off even more. Nina eventually tells Monella of her ploy of escaping from Johnny’s seedy world by conspiring to steal his much talked about hidden stash, stored in a safety deposit box deep in the neon city.
Monella reluctantly agrees to help...
...and we follow each of their dangerously entangled lives until their ultimate and bloody fate.
No Right Turn slaps your senses right from the start. From the opening scene of Nina pleasuring a character straight out of a Coen Bros. movie Teddy, we're in for a jam packed grimy world that you will feel dirty after viewing. What drives this film in the beginning is the characters and for the first hour we get to explore their characterologies to a level where we have to be comfortable with so that when we get into plot mode (which we finally get to in the last 30 min), we can see the motives all spinning out of control.
First, we get Nina (Laura Bach) a blonde, hot vixen who wants to be an actress. She's multifaceted in more ways than one. More likely than not she is the town whore as we find out later but her ever changing hair colors and lesbian inklings are devishly sexy. It's Uma from Pulp Fiction, but nastier. She's the angel that fell from the heavens but ended up with Johnny.
Johnny (Tao Hildebrand) is Mr. Asshole Junkie. A drug dealer by trade, a junkie by hobby. He's our Mr. to the Mrs. that is Nina. Johnny works for Pedro our big drug czar. For now, Johnny is our "pizza" delivery guy delivering but he's aspiring for bigger things. Johnny's days go like this.
1.) Bang Nina
2.) Drink and smoke
3.) Deliver drugs
4.) Sniff coke
5.) Bang Nina (ever harder)
6.) Drink and smoke
Repeat 5 times.
He's a slimy dimebag of a dude that if you make him mad, he'll fuck you up.
One of Johnny's customers is Teddy, a John Waters looking chap who is a writer and pseudo engineer. Teddy is quirky times infinity, doing his drugs and smoking like a chimney (that's on fire). An odd cat, he's wrapped in secrecy that will be revealed toward the end.
Wrapping up our quartet is Monella. Her introduction is somewhat Irreversible but with a beatdown. After Johnny gives a drunk tirade to a some patrons at his local bar, the patrons decide to go out for some old fashioned raping in a dark alley.
Poor Nina ends up being the victim but is saved by Monella. They then proceed to have a very Wachowski's Bound like relationship. Monella, her mother having past away is a suicidal painter. The two go all Ying and Yang and go all lesbian grunting. Good times.
Like I said, the first hour establishes each of these characters. At times I got bored of seeing repetitive smoking and drinking. It wasn't until we see the Nin-nella relationship did I feel like I got some worthiness of my time. This was best illustrated in a scene where both women are playing darts and Nina tells off a man hitting on her. Cue lesbian love scene.
The plot kicks in on the last 40 or so minutes as Nina's proposed heist with Monella's help ensues. It's filled with twizzler twists to keep you on your toes, even going all fantastical in the last 10. I'm still scratching my head.
What's the goodyness in No Right Turn? The characters are never boring, more so cardboard cutouts of pulp. A junkie drug dealer, a sexy siren, a innocent ordinary and a quirky 50s wannabe writer. The comparisons to Bound are hard to ignore. Nina and Monella's sassy relationship has that same Gina Gerson-Meg Tilly feel with Joey Pants as the Johnny type. NRT can be described as Bound's cousin once removed.
The visuals are shot remarkabely well for an indie. From snowy hills to Johnny and Nina's loft apartment are very top notch. Even the film quality makes this feel IFC-ish.
What's the baddyness in No Right Turn? Well it's the fact that the first 60 minutes has no plot whatsoever. Part of a mystery is to get the audience hooked and I had to wait a whole hour for that.
The first hour was also filled with scenes to promote the soundtrack. It almost looked like a music video. The characters are not doing anything special and after seeing Johnny drink, smoke, snort for the 20th time, I was wondering if anything from the trailer was ever going to happen. The scenes are so disjointed going to character to character. It's almost if you could have skipped the first hour and still understood the movie.
Even with my gripes, I enjoyed No Right Turn for what it was. A fantastical pulpy mixture with a dash of crime gone awry. The fantastical twist in a pulp fiction cocktail is completely different from anything I've seen before. And that's the beauty of independent film. You can do that and let the audience decide if it worked.
Thank goodness it worked.
Some shot off fingers
Grade B boobies from Nina
The ending ending...I'm still going huh?
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
It's a crime fairy tale movie from Denmark! I was able to watch this from DVD screener from Mr. Bourke (thanks!). No Right Turn should be on the festival circuit soon, no word yet on any distribution.
You can check out the official site here. And yes the MySpace page. And yes the Facebook page as well.
Also, a collection of awesome pulp posters were made (like the one from above) which you can check out here.
If you get a chance to see No Right Turn, you won't be disappointed.
Check out the trailer.
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