Posted March 28, 2014 by editor in Film Reviews

The Motel Life Review


The Nevada, low life, grim lifestyle gets a look in with The Motel Life. Frank (Emile Hirsch) and Jerry Lee (Stephen Dorff) are orphaned brothers bonded together by their mother shortly before her death and have since relied on each other and the few belongings they have managed to hold onto in order to get by.

Along the way Jerry Lee lost half of his leg in an accident and has since relented his life to that of one of few accomplishments. This hits hard in the film’s open when he returns home to his brother Frank, after having apparently just ran down a child in his car in a hit and run accident.

The brothers resolve to band together and put this incident in their rear view mirror, but Jerry Lee’s erratic behaviour lands him in hospital while Frank does what he can to find money to make life more comfortable for the pair of them.

Both are forced to confront their life, choices made in the past and try to come to some sort of conclusion as to why life has been so miserable for each of them.

Dorff is always good to watch on screen when he is in the right film, but the film’s centre is clearly Hirsch, who has put in another very worthy dramatic performance in an independent picture after sterling work in the likes of Killer Joe and Lone Survivor. The trouble is the film all but suddenly ends at just over the 80 minute mark. And by this point it’s never truly clear the motives of the storytelling we have witnessed thusfar.

It’s a different sort of narrative – broken up with both of the brothers own mode of expressing life: Jerry Lee with his sketches, and Frank with his wild story telling that combines his brothers artwork presented to us in animation.

In the end it’s a tale of misery accented late on with glimmers of hope.

3 Stars




Steven Hurst