April 16, 2018

SCREEN | Processing 'Kodachrome' on Netflix

Ed Harris Jason Sudeikis Elizabeth Olsen Mark Raso | Kodachrome Netflix

Inspired by the 2010 New York Times article about the closure of the last photo lab in Kansas to develop the titular beloved film stock (discontinued in 2009), director Mark Raso's indie film, Kodachrome, about fathers and sons is a predictable but engrossing enough family dramedy about processing fractured adult relationships.

To say that accomplished actor Ed Harris elevates the material and makes the very standard story more emotional would be an understatement. The antagonistic relationship with his estranged, bitter son (Jason Sudeikis) feels authentic even when the stereotypical important but dying asshole father archetype does not always.

As such, Harris plays a famous photographer, the curmudgeon Ben Ryder, now dying of cancer who quickly coaxes his A&R talent scout son, Matt, into a somewhat contrived road trip to personally deliver the film stock and get it developed on its very symbolic last day of production. The film itself tries to act as an unsentimental coda to the physical artform of film photography.

Screenwriter Jonathan Tropper wastes no time in getting the nostalgic plot established and the trio on the road weaving in each character's motivations to carefully culminate on the trip's drive. Despite its contrivances, the actors make their arresting performances work together through almost sheer talent. However, the script is so out of date meshing together the bygone realities of film processing with the even messier economics of boutique indie labels in the music industry.

Ed Harris Jason Sudeikis Elizabeth Olsen Mark Raso | Kodachrome Netflix

The effervescent Elizabeth Olsen is sadly underserved as Harris' nurse and caretaker who unsurprisingly doubles up as Sudeikis' convenient love interest in a painfully unromantic pairing only made palatable by the pair's good looks and charm together. She plays well off of Sudeikis' trademark dick-ish comedy and combative humour.

A thickly moustached Bruce Greenwood adds some more welcome gravitas as Harris' brother who raised Sudeikis in the bare cast of players. Every part plays a specific role to pay off the emotions of the two main characters just so. The brothers' underplayed almost relationship threatens to be more engrossing than the actual road trip plot in only a couple short scenes.

Kodachrome is expectedly all about the drama of nostalgia and closure. Harris and Sudeikis' chemistry makes the familiar material emotionally resonate with enough laughs rooted in character to bind most of the film together. The road trip film is a rather breezy experience hinting at the power of documenting our past. In that vein, it's a suitable picture about the redemptive qualities of processing and development our relationships as adults.

Finally, the fact that the exclusively streaming film tied to a plot about the end of physical mediaa "coda", if you willwas shot on 35mm Kodak film stock is certainly not lost.

Kodachrome is available for streaming on Netflix.

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