Review / ‘Kodachrome’ (M) *** and a half

MARK Raso’s film of Jonathan Tropper’s screenplay based on AG Sulzberger’s 2010 “New York Times” article “For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas” offers no real surprises.

That event provides an agreeable-enough backdrop to family discord during a 3200-kilometre drive in a red Saab drophead carrying magazine photographer Ben (Ed Harris) in the last stages of terminal cancer, his son Matt (Jason Sudeikis) who hasn’t seen his dad in more than a decade and his full-time nurse Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen) who knows what’s what about her irascible patient rather better than she knows about herself. The screenplay deals with the prickly interactions among the three while the car crosses the American landscape and its cities and towns.

Nothing remarkable about that framework. So why hang a feature movie on it? The answer is the Leica camera that made Ben’s reputation and paid his bills. And the reason for the trip is to deliver four rolls of Kodachrome before the last laboratory on earth able to process them shuts down permanently at the end of the week.

There are enough conflicts along the way to generate and maintain the viewer’s interest without explaining why those four films underpin the story. What are the pictures that Ben wants to see again before he dies? Where is confrontation taking father and son? What about the chemistry between the two men and their feisty and rather beautiful companion?

Rather slow (25 ASA) Kodachrome was the only process permitted to enter “National Geographic” magazine’s doors – no exceptions. The shots accompanying the movie’s closing credits tell us why. Not even Ektachrome, its successor in the last years before digital imaging became the norm for photography, matches their blissful quality.

At Dendy, Palace Electric, Capitol 6 and Limelight

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