Where the Road Meets the Sun is about the intersection of the lives of four men in a seedy Los Angeles hotel: a Japanese thug (Will Yun Lee), an illegal Mexican immigrant (Fernando Noriega), a British backpacker (Luke Brandon Field), and the hotel owner (Eric Mabius). At first glance of the summary, this movie sounded like another Crash or Babel, which I dreaded as I’m exasperated by films where randomly diverse people crash violently for no reason at all, only to have the overall message be about racial tension warning or how we are all one and the same.
Thankfully, this film didn’t do that and for once, it showed a true depiction of the diversity of Los Angeles without forcing it down on the audience’s throats. Though I question why they needed to make Korean American Will Yun Yee a Japanese thug who speaks in heavily accented English, I was disappointed that director Mun Chee Yong adhered to Hollywood tropes where for every movies dealing with diversity, the Asian person always has to be some foreigner to showcase how truly diverse they are.
Asian American representation gripes aside, I was pleasantly surprised by how natural and easygoing the ensemble cast was towards each other. The only problem was that the whole film followed this attitude all the way through until it realized it had to make some sort of climax and then violently pushes that into our way with actions that did not make any sense from any of the people involved. When the plot’s climatic moment came, I accidentally laughed out loud because I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be serious or darkly comical. Apparently it was the latter since I ended up being the only person who did so.
I usually don’t nitpick about technical aspects but this film needed more time in the editing room. Random mini shots of scenes would be cut awkwardly with each other, music would play to emphasize a scene and then suddenly screech to a halt (this was most noticeable at the end of the film). Like I mentioned before, the pacing was incredibly languid and at times, it crawled to a snail’s pace as we literally watch a character do grocery shopping and then leave (TWICE). I always believe that every scene in a film or a play needs to have some purpose why it’s there; otherwise, it’s best left on the cutting room floor. This film definitely needed that.
Overall, I thought the film was decent. The cinematography was beautiful and the ensemble cast was excellent, but the story, pacing, and general excitement of the film was lacking.