"The Road: A Story of Life

British documaker Marc Isaacs ("Men of the City") scores once again with his latest depiction of contempo London, the extravagantly titled "The Road: A Story of Life and Death."

British documaker Marc Isaacs (“Men of the City”) scores once again with his latest depiction of contempo London, the extravagantly titled “The Road: A Story of Life and Death.” While there’s certainly ample attention to life and death via riveting histories from immigrants to northwest London, the title proves a false promise, since Isaacs doesn’t make much headway along his ostensible subject, the 300-mile route to Holyhead, Wales. Nevertheless, further fest outings and niche tube play will be this touching film’s next stops.

While Isaacs himself doesn’t roam far, his subjects have all made their own journeys, enriching “The Road” with bittersweet moments. Particularly affecting are 95-year-old widow Peggy Roth, who escaped Vienna before the Nazis arrived, and lonely Billy Leah, a hard-drinking Irishman whose life lost meaning after his retirement from major infrastructure construction. Philosophical reflections come especially courtesy of Iqbal Ahmed, a hotel concierge from Kashmir who is awarded joint writing credit. Eschewing the purist naturalism of his last film, “Outside the Court,” which interviewed subjects encountered outside a London magistrate’s court, “The Road” is more deliberate in its staging, adding some cinematic scope and a quirky charm.

The Road: A Story of Life and Death

U.K.

Production

A Bungalow Town production in association with Crow Hill Films for the BBC in association with the Irish Film Board. (International sales: Bungalow Town, Wortham.) Produced by Rachel Wexler, Aisling Ahmed. Executive producers, Nick Fraser, Kate Townsend. Directed by Marc Isaacs. Written by Isaacs, Iqbal Ahmed.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Isaacs; editor, David Charap; music, Lance Hogan; associate producer, Georgina Cammalleri. Reviewed at London Film Festival (Journey), Oct. 11, 2012. Running time: 75 MIN.

With

With Keelta O'Higgins, Peggy Roth, Billy Leah, Iqbal Ahmed, Brigitte Krafczyk, Venerable Uuttara, Nomm Raj, Sacha, Royston Myers, Asia Ahmed (English, Burmese dialogue)

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