The Motel Life (★★★★ Empire Review)

MotelLifeSquareWhen motel dweller Jerry Lee (Stephen Dorff) is involved in a hit and run, his brother Frank (Emile Hirsch) does his best to soothe Jerry Lee’s wounded soul.

Alt.country singer Willy Vlautin’s songs (with band Richmond Fontaine) were bittersweet, compassionate stories about life’s losers, and his transition to novelist seemed effortless. His first novel, persuasively adapted here by the Polsky brothers (with brilliantly-conceived animated interludes), is the elegiac tale of rootless brothers Frank (Emile Hirsch) and Jerry Lee (Stephen Dorff), whose already hardscrabble existence takes a turn for the worse when Jerry Lee is involved in a hit and run, leaving Frank to pick up the pieces of his brother’s shattered soul. Hirsch and especially Dorff are terrific in a film so downbeat, you may not notice your heart breaking.

VERDICT
Hirsch and especially Dorff shine in this low-key heart-breaker; a more perfect adaptation of Willy Vlautin’s acclaimed debut novel is hard to imagine. ★★★★

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