Back in April, Netflix released a new original film called “Kodachrome,” a road trip drama starring Jason Sudeikis as Matt Ryder, a struggling record company exec who reluctantly agrees to drive his dying father Ben (Oscar-nominee Ed Harris) – a famous photographer – to Kansas to fulfill his dying wish of developing some photos on Kodachrome film for the last time ever.
Sudeikis does an impressive job in the lead role as a young man who hates his father and only agrees to go on the trip to make a stop on the way there to speak with a band in a desperate attempt to save his job. Sudeikis is convincing portraying a wide range of emotions including sadness, anger and resentment towards his father.
Harris also does good work as a brash, no-filter sort of guy who was never really there for his son. Ben is definitely an interesting character. He’s fully aware of the fact that he’s not a nice guy. And he’s the kind of person who really knows how to push people’s buttons. And the film suggests that this is something he does even more so now that he’s dying and doesn’t really care anymore.
With Ben dying, you can probably predict that the film is going to make an attempt to redeem him to a certain extent, and have him reach some sort of closure with his son before it’s too late. And you’d be right.
Now this is the sort of thing that could really go wrong if not handled with effort and tact. But screenwriter Jonathan Tropper finds a way to make it work. Let’s just say that by the time the movie is over, you start to see a little more good in Ben.
This materializes in an impressive emotional scene towards the end of the story with some great, raw acting from Harris. This scene is without a doubt the highlight of the movie and this final third of the film is when it’s at its best.
Along for the ride with Matt and Ben is Zooey Kern (Elisabeth Olsen), Ben’s nurse/assistant and one of the few people left who actually cares about him in any way. Olsen plays the role well as a character who tries to keep some peace between Matt and Ben along the way.
And I don’t really think I’m giving away too much when I say she becomes a bit of a love interest for Matt. The two have some great chemistry and as the film goes on, you find that her character has a little more too her than meets the eye.
As you might have noticed from the synopsis so far, “Kodachrome” is not exactly the most original film ever. But it still has a realness to it that makes it work. The biggest strength here is definitely the character development that helps the characters feel like real people as opposed to just clichés or stereotypes.
Something else worth mentioning about the movie is that going into “Kodachrome,” I expected a film that was more of a comedy/drama. But what I got from the movie instead was a very well-made film with around 70 percent drama and only about 30 percent comedy.
The film also has a nice soundtrack made up of classic rock music. This, of course, fits with the story of Matt being a record exec for rock bands. But it also contributes effectively to the movie’s dramatic but often laid-back tone.
If the film has any flaws, it would be that perhaps they could have trimmed down the runtime just a little bit. It goes on for about an hour and 45 minutes and I think they probably could have made it an hour and a half.
But overall, “Kodachrome” is a great Netflix original film, one of their best. And yes, it’s definitely my favorite film I’ve seen this year so far. It’s an underrated movie and absolutely worth checking out.