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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

DOWNSHIFT -- Movie Review by Porfle

I knew nothing about DOWNSHIFT (2014) at first, but the premise caught my fancy right away.

When two estranged brothers meet up by accident in a hometown diner, their obsessively competitive spirit and love of racing are rekindled and they challenge each other to the best out of three cross-country races from New York to Baltimore and then to New Orleans and Los Angeles.

"Charming" (Phillip Andry, MEME) has taken the family route with his expectant bride Grace (Geri-Nikole Love, LIVIN' THE DREAM) and a mechanic's job that keeps him close to his beloved automobiles.

"Drifter" (co-writer Jeremy C. Russell, BLOODY MARY), on the other hand, left home after their father's death and has never settled down.  When he arranges to meet up with his brother in that diner, Drifter knows that he'll be unable to resist the challenge. 

Thus, roughly ten minutes into the movie we're already speeding down the highway with these two guys (and Grace, for whom this seems as good a honeymoon as any), and DOWNSHIFT is now a road picture with some low-key but involving relationship drama.

This will soon include Drifter's on-again, off-again girlfriend Jacqueline (Stephanie Heitman), whose melancholy love for the elusive loner remains largely unrequited.

One thing about it, this movie doesn't resemble CANNONBALL RUN or THE GUMBALL RALLY at all--there are no big car stunts, police chases, comical situations, or edge-of-your-seat adrenaline rushes.  The race, in fact, is just a metaphor for life and whatever, and it's shown mainly in a series of montages accompanied by songs. 

(I liked these segments the least because I hate that pensive, twangy singer-songwriter stuff.  If you like it, you'll like these sequences more than me.)

The downtime between the three segments of the race is where the interesting character interplay takes place.  There's Charming and Grace, feeling a little overwhelmed by it all until they stop over at her family home for the night for some awkward moments between her new husband and "the folks."

Jacqueline's quiet desperation tugs at the heartstrings although, thankfully for a change, nothing in the film is overplayed.  And through it all the two brothers chafe at each other's presence as the past keeps coming back to haunt them. 

Performances are good while the direction by Ryan Schmitz (this is his sophomore effort after THE SEARCH FOR AGENT Z) is lean and efficient.  To his credit, he manages to capture a distinct 60s-70s "car movie" vibe here that I found quite pleasing while still being contemporary. 

DOWNSHIFT is something that we don't quite get enough of these days--a "cool" movie.  It never quite shifts into high gear as one might expect for a movie such as this, but sometimes just cruising along with the windows down  for awhile is enough. 

Buy it at

Directed by: Ryan Schmitz
Runtime: 77 minutes
Format: 1:85 Flat
Sound: Dolby SR
Country: USA


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