Laurence Fuller plays a frustrated beta male desk jockey, Frank, who discovers that his girlfriend has been having an affair with his boss. Serendipitously, an old friend of his, handsome drifter Jack (Micah Parker), breezes into town and convinces his buddy to meet him for a few drinks at a night spot, where he also goads Frank to approach a woman (Rosalie McIntire) who catches his eye at the bar. From here, Frank’s life takes a left turn down a darker avenue than he ever knew existed, with Road to the Well developing into a fantastic, albeit eccentric, little thriller sustained by painful tensions and moments of unexpected strangeness. Only one superfluous scene broadly and condescendingly characterizing conservatives as “bigoted trash” taints what is otherwise a recommendable film, and writer-director Jon Cvack is to be commended. Barak Hardley is also worthy of mention for his portrayal of spoiled millennial man-child Chris, while Marshall Teague, glaring out of the screen from the other end of the masculinity spectrum, is also highly effective. For those interested, Road to the Well was recently released on DVD and VOD.
Four-and-a-half out of five stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Road to the Well is:
8. Anti-capitalistic, with prostitution furnishing the film’s model of free enterprise. Undignified Frank continues to work for his company (in order to “build a cushion,” he says) even after learning his boss has cuckolded him. He despises his erstwhile friend Chris, however, as a “hoity-toity yuppie” – but it is possible also to read the envy hiding behind Frank’s feigned contempt for Chris’s material security. Jack is utterly dismissive of regular employment, and encourages Frank to call in sick. “I don’t work anymore,” he says.
7. Anti-war. An implicit parallelism emerges during a scene between a murderer and a military man. One character understands something about the other’s experience.
6. Judgmentally anti-slut. The wages of sin is death!
5. Pro-gay. A corny anecdote is told about a homosexual adolescent who shot himself after being bullied. A homophobic redneck landlord who makes light of his own son’s participation in the bullying is intended to represent the low standard of sophistication prevailing among opponents of sodomy. Frank’s exaggerated reaction to this insensitivity is, one assumes, meant to establish his character’s moral credentials.
4. Manospherean. Frank, over the course of the film, is taught by his experiences to man up and assert himself. “Everything is fine as long as you got some money and a nice piece of pussy” is Jack’s philosophy.
3. Anti-Christian. A chaplain (Teague) has lost his faith and become suicidal. “My faith? What the hell is that?”
2. Anti-marriage. “It’s like marriage is this weird construct we’ve made up for ourselves and handed down from generation to generation,” moans Chris, who is soon to be married. “It’s meaningless, right?” A committed relationship is “not exciting”.
1. Antinatalist. “It’s like they’re these tiny little animals and I’m responsible for ‘em,” Chris frets, imagining the prospect of fatherhood. “If I don’t change their diaper, then they just, what, sit in their shit all day? Or, like, if you touch their fontanelle, you’re like, touching their brain, and you got a dead baby. […] No thank you.”