directed by Dmitrii Kalashnikov
by Alice Stoehr Dashboard-mounted cameras are surveillance tools. They can prove who's at fault in an accident, counter insurance scams, and record run-ins with the police; in the corruption-riddled nation of Russia especially, they've become widespread as legal safeguards. But the footage they capture can also double as entertainment. For what, in the whole history of moviegoing, has stimulated a viewer's lizard brain better than a car crash? In The Road Movie, documentarian Dmitrii Kalashnikov has compiled dozens of clips shot by his countrymen on dashcams and uploaded to video-hosting websites. Their lengths range from a few seconds to a few minutes, and the events they document are unpredictable, but they all share the same vantage point: gazing through a windshield onto the road. The director's input is subtle. He's present mostly in the curation and arrangement of the videos, with signs of trimming here and there. Kalashnikov achieves a seamless flow that keeps the film's 70 minutes from growing monotonous. So, for example, during one stretch a cloud of smoke pours from a burning bus; runaway horses block a car's progress through the snow; then a driver ricochets off a snowbank and right into oncoming traffic. Kalashnikov doesn't impose any context on them, so that task falls to the vehicles' occupants, whose faces usually go unseen and whose subtitled chatter is only sporadically relevant to the scene in the road.