Hit the Road
In his feature debut, Panah Panahi turns the road movie on its head, adding suspense and ambiguity to the gags and character studies that the genre has made familiar. Hit the Road is the story of one family and their mysterious journey through rural Iran. From early on, it’s made clear that the clan is on some sort of mission, and the drama slowly escalates as details are revealed.
Along the way, there are laughs, moments of reverie, and plenty of opportunities for the cast to shine—six year-old Rayan Sarlak gives an especially winning performance as the bratty but endearing runt of the pack. The son of VIFF alumnus Jafar Panahi, Panah shares his father’s bent for political subversion, and he’s similarly inclined toward limpid, sharply composed images. The boisterous humour and fantastical whimsy, however, are his alone. From its humourous opening to its feverish, music-driven conclusion, this film both commands and rewards the viewer’s attention.
Its 93 minutes whip by so airily, it’s possible not to realize how much you’ve learned to love the family whose road trip you’ve shared in, until the credits roll and you immediately start to miss them.
Jessica Kiang, Variety
A road trip movie with an aching heart and a slow accretion of revelations ahead of it – a drama that leaves the dramatics for later and is all the more powerful for it… [it’s] something completely fresh.
Phil de Semlyen, Time Out
Miraculous… a beautifully tender comedy that tears your heart in half with a featherlight touch — a film that swerves between tragedy and gallows humor with the expert control of a stunt driver, and knowingly sabotages all of its most crushing moments with a deadpan joke in order to keep Khosro’s family from running out of gas. Hit the Road is a story about people who have to laugh in order to stop themselves from crying, and Panahi commits to that dynamic with the unwavering dedication of someone who knows that his characters don’t have any other choice.
David Ehrlich, Indiewire
Panah Panahi, Mastaneh Mohajer
Ashkan Mehri, Amir Etminan