Jason Sudeikis and Ed Harris develop a bittersweet portrait of an estranged father and son in Mark Raso’s “Kodachrome,” which premiered Friday in Toronto at the Princess of Wales Theater.
Sudeikis’ trademark deadpan and salty dog Harris made for plenty of laughs, but some sneaky last minute redemption in Johathan Tropper’s script hit home hard for the men in the crowd — TheWrap spotted quite a few sniffling back tears and choking into their blazers.
Sudeikis plays Matt, a complacent and behind-the-times indie music executive who has just lost another edgy rock client. Matt believes in the artist as a visionary, to quote Sudeikis’ character directly, in a music landscape filled with EDM and the white noise of social media.
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It’s not working out for him, and just as he learns of his imminent firing a nurse (Elizabeth Olsen) to his sick and father Harris turns up on his doorstep.
Harris plays a famous photographer with a terminal disease, and has requested his son pilot a road trip to Kansas, where he might develop decades-old photos at the last storefront in America to process Kodachrome film. Matt agrees, because Dad’s connections might help him save his career, but the acid flies the moment the men are reunited and pumps consistently throughout the trip.
“What have you done with your life?” father asks son after barely more than a handshake. Son gleefully responds that the only people left in dad’s life are employees, and soon enough he’ll deservedly die alone.
Olsen becomes inevitable romantic fodder for Sudeikis, though she has an interesting (if not under-explored) backstory as a self-saboteur divorcee. This is the Sudeikis-Harris show, and it really works.
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When illness overtakes the foul-mouthed photographer, he mourns the loss of all the love he had for his once-infant son. Feeding Matt from a bottle in the middle of the night was the happiest he had ever been, he says, as he wonders aloud what broke inside him and led him from that place. Cue waterworks.
“Kodachrome” is for sale, repped by WME and CAA, and a potential emotional grip on the hard-to-crack older male audience could bring multiple suitors for North American distribution rights.
It should be said that the film does not fetishize the dusty tech of years past, as the premise might suggest. There are plenty of relics like cassette tapes, beat-up Cabirolets, record players and of course Kodak camera film. None of the equipment is played up for cheap nostalgia.
If anything, that works in movie’s favor. There’s a moment when Sudeikis has to load a camera, and he recites a poem his dad taught him as a child to make sure the film catches and locks into place. It’s almost as tear-jerky as the hospital bed confessions.
“Kodachrome” was produced by The Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein Goldsmith, Dan Cohen (“Arrival”), Shawn Levy, Eric Robinson, Jonathan Tropper, Dan Levine, and Leon Clarance.