This early section is where Road Games works best. Director Abner Pastoll creates enough suspense from Gizard and Mary's peculiar behaviour (along with help from an effectively atmospheric synthy score from Daniel Elms) to keep the audience engaged in this slow-burn build up. It's when events predictably go south when Road Games derails and takes some majorly nonsensical turns. Pastoll's insistence on steeping absolutely everything and everybody in ambiguity obscures any clear character motivation, plot development or idea of what the hell is going on. Even on a second viewing it's not clear why several characters make the decisions they do and consequently there’s just no stakes or sense of real danger. The constant interchanging between English and French language only serves to dissipate this dwindling sense of suspense further.
Games' incoherent plot is not
held up by the strength of its characterisations either. All of the characters
remain undercooked, uninspiring and uninteresting. The film's success depends
heavily on the romantic connection between Jack and Veronique but their
relationship is both poorly developed and unconvincing. Perhaps it's unfair to
attribute this failure solely on Pastoll's script as Simpson makes for a bland,
lacklustre leading man and his delivery often feels amateurish.
Road Games also features some of the most bizarre and unintentionally
humorous attempts at suspense and drama we have ever seen on screen. One scene
plays out more like a Laurel and Hardy sketch as characters incomprehensibly
fall over to serve the action of the plot. In another instance a chase sequence
staged around a single barrel of hay (yes really) had us in fits of laughter
when we should have been riddled with anxiety over the lead duo's fates. Road Games' promising opening makes everything
that follows all the more frustrating; there was a good movie in here
somewhere, this just isn't it.
ROAD GAMES / CERT: 15 DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ABNER PASTOLL / STARRING: ANDREW SIMPSON, JOSEPHINE DE LA BAUME, FREDERIC PIERROT, BARBARA CRAMPTON, RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 29TH