The Motel Life review

Checking in with Hirsch and Dorff

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If you didn't know an Americana songwriter – Richmond Fontaine’s Willy Vlautin – wrote the source novel for Alan and Gabe Polsky’s debut, you might guess.

Focused on two troubled but tight brothers (Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff) who flee a hit’n’run in Nevada, it unfolds like a minor-key folk ballad.

As our runaways drift, drink and ponder their life-bruised hopes, the Polskys’ mix of surreal fantasy and rugged US iconography (railroads, Kris Kristofferson) makes up in emotional pull what it lacks in propulsion.

Fans of indie cinema’s mood-movie fringes, check in.

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Freelance writer

Kevin Harley is a freelance journalist with bylines at Total Film, Radio Times, The List, and others, specializing in film and music coverage. He can most commonly be found writing movie reviews and previews at GamesRadar+.