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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 


SYNOPSIS: Harper (Tye Sheridan) is a young law student who blindly enters into a pact with a stranger (Emory Cohen) who offers to kill his stepfather. Harper is going through a personal crisis: his mother is in a coma following a car accident and he feels his stepfather is responsible.

Review by Louise Keller:
With its Sliding Doors premise, this superb little thriller is as entertaining as it is unexpected. Writer director Christopher Smith has written an economical script and created a taut and clever film about morality and choices. It feels fresh from the outset with its nicely described characters, plot twists, surprises and an ending - well, I defy you to know where things will end up! Perfectly cast and beautifully directed with its symbolic split screen that navigates life's optional journeys, Detour is a ripper.

You may remember Tye Sheridan as the young Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016); he has a distinctive look. Here, as the protagonist, Sheridan looks as though he is carrying the world on his shoulders, a perpetual frown etched onto his brow. He is ideal as Harper, the smart young man aspiring to be a criminal lawyer as he struggles with his personal circumstances. His mother is in a coma; he hates his stepfather; life is conspiring against him. When Harper meets Johnny (Emory Cohen) at a bar - a loud, bad ass with an explosive anger, we have already discovered they come from very different worlds. Amid pole dancers at the strip joint, they start talking. Or is the liquor that pushes the conversation into precarious territory?

Listen and watch carefully. There is a reason for everything.

Effective use of split screen allows us to partake in the two different scenarios. We flit from one to the other - seamlessly connected by an old movie clip, spilt blood, a deserted mine shaft, bodies in the boot... Will Harper go to Vegas with Johnny to 'ruffle his stepfather's feathers'? Or will he stay at home in his luxury pad? Where will both scenarios lead? And where does Cherry (Bel Powley), the blond, scarred pole dancer fit in? What is her relationship to Johnny and who is Frank (John Lynch), who seems to call the shots? By the time Harper is the run, it doesn't matter which scenario is playing.

The cast is perfect. Sheridan outstanding in a contained performance; Cohen suitably nasty but complex; Powley memorable and light years away from her role as Princess Margaret in A Royal Night Out; Lynch terrifying (watch for the scene when Frank uses Johnny's face as target practice).

Smith paints the scene clearly and succinctly. Everything has a price. I like the way little gems of wisdom are unexpectedly presented- like the scene in Vegas when a washed up boxer on a winning streak spouts philosophies about gambling more than you can afford to lose - in order to feel alive. And another thing: context is everything. The two different scenarios intersect when you least expect them - and the ending, with all its ambiguities, is a delight.

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(UK/South Africa, 2017

CAST: Tye Sheridan, Emory Cohen, Bel Powley, Stephen Moyer, John Lynch

PRODUCER: Julie Baines, Phil Hunt, Stephen Kelliher, Jason Newmark, Compton Ross

DIRECTOR: Christopher Smith

SCRIPT: Christopher Smith


EDITOR: Kristina Hetherington

MUSIC: Pablo Clements, James Griffith, Toydrum


RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes



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