MOVIE REVIEW | Two for the Road (1967)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “The real reason to check this movie out is the darkness and melancholy that’s oozing out of the screen.”

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“Marriage is when the woman tells the man to take off his pajamas… and it’s because, she wants to send them to the laundry.”

I’m a big fan of Audrey Hepburn.  But as I was getting ready to write this review, I realised that I’m a casual fan who only knows her from her most famous roles.  I’ve never dug all that deep into the Audrey Hepburn canon and am really only familiar with the iconic movies in her filmography, like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, My Fair Lady, Roman Holiday and Sabrina.  With those sorts of movies forming my opinion of Hepburn, combined with the schmaltzy artwork on the cover of the $3 DVD I bought, I thought I knew what I was in for with Two for the Road.  I was wrong.

Hepburn is Joanna Wallace, the well kept wife of Mark (Albert Finney), a rich and successful architect.  Their marriage is in trouble, and the pressures of their current road trip across Europe is only making things more precarious.  Cue a series of flash backs to different parts of their relationship, showing that this isn’t their first, or even second road trip in this part of the world.  Each flashback shows a different stage of their relationship, giving a thorough evolution to the viewer.

There was the time they met, when Mark was a penniless hitchhiker, trying to pick up a bus load of choir girls.  A girls choir that includes the innocent, young Joanna.  There’s the newly married couple’s honeymoon trip crisscrossing the same region, stuffed in a car with Mark’s ex girlfriend,  her husband and their bratty kid.  There’s the trip that reveals Joanna’s pregnancy with their fist child, and shows how Mark will became a rich and successful architect.

The timeline is more fractured than Quentin Tarantino a this his most ADD, the scenery is repetitive and almost on a loop, and Mark and Joanna spend a lot more time making a case for breaking up than they ever do for reminding themselves, or the audience, why they ever got together in the first place.  All that, and Two for the Road still manages to be immensely watchable.

The bouncing back and forth in time should be gimmicky at best, infuriatingly confusing at worst.  Yet even when the people and locations are the same, the place in time is always clear and easy to differentiate.  Mark and Joanna can both be mean, petty and downright ugly to each other, but it’s still hard to not care for them both.

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Two for the Road has moments of the kind of fluff its cover art and cast made me expect.  And even at its fluffliest, Hepburn and Finney make those moments charming and fun.  But the real reason to check this movie out is the darkness and melancholy that’s oozing out of the screen at all other times, smothering the fluff.  It was the last thing I expected from Two the Road, and it’s what made it stand out as such a great surprise.

Two for the Road
Directed By – Stanley Donen
Written By – Frederic Raphael

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