Natural Selection | Movie review
Robbie Pickering’s road-trip movie needs to work on basic mechanics.
After her ostensibly chaste husband (John Diehl) suffers a stroke during a furtive sperm donation, true-believing, sexually frustrated housewife Linda (Rachael Harris) goes off in search of his only son, the product of a deposit years earlier. The man she finds is Raymond (Matt O’Leary), a junkie who’s recently escaped from prison—a detail he doesn’t divulge. At first, he uses Linda to facilitate his getaway, but over a few days of driving, they’ll reach a fragile accord.
O’Leary and Harris are both winning, charismatic performers, and the movie gains fascination in being told from the perspective of a sheltered character. Unfortunately, it repeatedly strains credulity, resorting to such tired bits as the scene in which Raymond is beaten up protecting Linda from hillbillies outside the general store, or the one in which Linda, who’s never drank alcohol before, gets sloshed and passes out, giving Raymond a chance to escape. Also, with the price of gas what it is, isn’t it cheaper to fly round-trip from Texas to Tampa? The road-trip format seems a poorly justified method of bringing the movie to feature length—especially once the car is stolen in a manner that might charitably be described as implausible. And then: “Sorry, ma’am, because of the parade today the next bus to Houston doesn’t leave until tomorrow evening.” Writer-director Robbie Pickering’s South by Southwest hit rallies by taking a few unexpected turns, but it really needs to work harder to get us from Point A to Point B.