It’s quite hard to make a movie 100 per cent original. Kodachrome, one of Netflix’s newest releases, is not exception to this rule. However, as far as family dramas go, this movie is far from being boringly predictable.
The movie follows Matt (Jason Sudeikis), a man who is doing quite badly in his job and even worse in his relationship with his father. His dad, Ben (Ed Harris) is a self-absorbed photographer with liver cancer. Thanks to Ben’s nurse Zoë (Elizabeth Olsen), the trio embark on a trip to the last place in America that develops Kodachrome film.
The movie itself was based on an article in The New York Times called “For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas”. With this in mind, it is so easy to see the love and respect for this medium that the screenwriter had. This movie is an ode to an art form, and the movie sees its last pioneer die poignantly as the last roll of Kodachrome is developed.
It’s not often that Jason Sudeikis is in a role which is serious. After seeing him play the funny man in movies such as We’re the Millers, this role brought a breath of fresh air to Sudeikis as an actor. Although his acting style is slightly jarring at the start, he becomes comfortable, soon wearing the movie instead of the movie wearing him.
Elizabeth Olsen plays carer/nurse Zoë very well. She is the balancing force in the movie, bringing together the two opposing sides of Ben and Matt. Despite the fact that she is hopelessly flat (this is all down to her writing rather than the acting) she brings a fair amount of heart to the movie, as well as a respectable and believeable (if not predictable) love story to the otherwise harrowing movie.
The real star of this movie, however, is Ed Harris. Harris possibly has the best written character, and this is shown multiple times throughout the movie. His character arc, from grumpy and conceited father to vulnerable and dying old man is wonderfully portrayed, with his pain and sadness and regret projected through the screen as beautifully as the Kodachrome he takes his pictures on. Without Harris, Ben would not have been brought to life with such depth and character as he was in the final movie.
Kodachrome, due to the fact it is about a photographer, should have perfect cinematography. Although the movie wasn’t perfect, it was gorgeously shot, using the rich sepia tones of analog photography as a calling card throughout. Each topic was handled with grace and elegance, making even the most devastating of scenes a possible art piece.
As mentioned previously, this movie isn’t the most original. With a plot line that tends to hang on to cliches, it was easy to see the outcome of the movie from about 30 minutes in. Despite this, the movie still held its own, with characters that needed to be redeemed and a plot, however unoriginal, that tugs on your heartstrings a few more times than I’d like to admit.
The main storyline follows Ben, who has cancer. His prognosis determines he only has months, if not weeks, to live. After finding some old Kodachrome film, he brings his estranged son and carer on a roadtrip with him to develop his film, as well as the relationship with his family.
The way that this movie deals with cancer can be described in one word: carefully. It shows the trauma of having such a debilitating disease, as well as the heartbreak it causes to the families themselves. Sudeikis and Harris demonstrate the fragile father-son relationship that is beautifully reconciled in the face of devastation and grief.
Netflix have been hit or miss with the films they have released. Despite their prowess with series, they rarely hit it out of the park with movies. Kodachrome isn’t a home run, but it’s definitely at least third base.
The stellar cast, pretty good acting and beautiful cinematography compliments the harrowing plot perfectly, showing the audience that there is beauty in the world even if everything seems ugly. With heart and a fairly good chance you’ll cry, this movie is worth a watch.