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.