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The Motel Life

The Motel Life, a powerful indie based on the novel by Willy Vlautin

ElizabethBrown ElizabethBrown The Motel Life is a gritty, conflict-filled, and visually stunning indie film based on the novel of the same name written by Willy Vlautin.

Directed by brothers Gabe and Alan Polsky and starring Emile Hirsch (Frank), Stephen Dorff (Jerry Lee), Kris Kristofferson (Earl Hurley), and Dakota Fanning (Annie), this film tells the story of two working-class brothers running from a crime Jerry Lee has committed. They try to keep the promise they made to their mother to stay together, no matter what. The film packs a wallop and grips the viewer until the end.

Brothers Lee drive around in The Motel Life
Brothers Lee drive around in The Motel Life

Strength and Spirit

The brothers move from motel to motel throughout the film, but their struggle never feels completely depressing or hopeless. Frank’s strength and spirit is a marvel. It is what ultimately empowers them and helps the audience root for the brothers throughout their ordeal.

Visually Stunning

Animated sequences are skillfully woven through the film detailing the superhero stories written by Frank and illustrated by Jerry Lee. These are visually stunning metaphors which allow some relief from the dark drama and conflict that both brothers live. They serve as a driving force and inspiration for both brothers to keep fighting. Furthermore, they highlight how creativity can blossom under any kind of strife.

Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff
Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff

All in all, this is a story of sibling love – the kind of love that has the power to stay with us even as parents die and romantic partners come and go. The tragedy that befalls Frank, besides the unfair life he has been dealt, is that he fails to realize his good and his strength. In the end, there is hope for him. The audience is able to envision new possibilities and a real chance to start anew. The Motel Life is a powerful, melancholic, yet hopeful film that truly reveals the strength of the human spirit.


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