Movie review: ‘The Road to Freedom’ needs more shape, more nuance and more punch
For his feature film debut, “The Road to Freedom,” Brendan Moriarty tells the story of two combat photographers – 28-year-old Sean Flynn (son of screen swashbuckler Errol Flynn) and 32-year-old Dana Stone – who vanished on April 6, 1970; they were last seen at a North Vietnamese checkpoint attempting to cross the border into Cambodia.
Screenwriters Margie Rogers and Tom Schade open their fictionalized account of the photojournalists’ true-life tale with an English-speaking Cambodian, Lim Po (Nhem Sokun), handing a manuscript to one of the men’s colleagues (Tom Proctor, the film’s co-producer) that purports to relate what happened in the wake of their disappearance.
According to Lim Po the two were able to talk their way past the checkpoint and enter Cambodia, determined to tell the world of the atrocities being committed by the Khmer Rouge. We watch as the pair is captured and then escape with Lim Po’s help, only to be recaptured as they make their way to Phnom Penh.
Tall, rangy Joshua Frederic Smith creates a fearless, determined Sean while Scott Maguire’s Dana is more cautious, and they give decent portrayals under Moriarty’s direction. While it is impressive that Moriarty was as capable as he was, making his feature debut at age 20, his film needs more shape, more nuance and more punch. Its strongest asset is its gorgeous natural scenery.
Sean Flynn, after making a stab at acting, found his true calling and made a name for himself. His brief, adventuresome life and the quest to discover his fate call out for a comprehensive documentary.
“The Road to Freedom.” MPAA rating: R for some violence, sexuality and language. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. At Laemmle’s Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.