Director: Kevin Chenault
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 7/10
Kevin Chenault’s Different Drum is the type of low budget indie that hits all the typical tropes, but in this case, that’s not a bad thing. While the film is incredibly understated, which may bore some viewers, I found the journey of Tod and Lydia to be extremely entertaining and, at times, very funny. Playing out like a less talky version of Alex Ross Perry’s The Color Wheel, this road trip comedy is incredibly well shot, and while it may not have a lot to say, it’s still a fun watch nonetheless.
The film follows Zach Zint and Isabella Devoy as Tod and Lydia, an ex couple going on a road trip across the Midwest. Although it’s never clear why they’re on this trip, circumstances cause them to change course and pick up Tod’s cousin along the way.
Broken up into chapters, each based on the city they’re in, Different Drum plays out like a quintessential road trip flick, where the location is a much a character as the two leads. We journey with Tod and Lydia as they explore the vast wasteland of the Midwest, stopping at hole in the wall diners and tourist traps. This decaying American landscape is a personal favorite of mine, and I love to see areas like this represented in a film.
Not only is this area accurately portrayed, but it looks quite impressive as well, with everything having a slightly washed out, worn look. This is yet another example of how you don’t need a big budget to make a movie look incredibly good.
Much like the characters, the film meanders through each scene, taking time to show us each area, casually exploring the nooks and crannies. This, along with the chapter breaks, does tend to make the movie feel overly long despite the 80 minute runtime. For those invested and interested in the characters and the progression of their story, this won’t be a problem. Others will undoubtedly find it difficult to care or even like these two, which will result in a lack of patience. The absence of any sort of crescendo or big climax will also aggravate some, but for me it simply added to the naturalistic and real tone of the film.
To help alleviate some of the monotony of the plot, there are several odd little comedic bits randomly thrown in, which work to great effect. These strange occurrences are not unlike things most people encounter on a long road trip- weird little things that will provide the fuel for many anecdotes in later years. One such instance happens near the beginning of the film in which Lydia gets hit in the eye with a tree branch resulting in her having to wear an eye patch for the rest of the film.
While Different Drum may not be as intellectually rewarding or complex as Perry’s The Color Wheel, it’s still a solid character piece on two lost souls taking a road trip. It may be too slight and hipster-esque for some viewers, but I found this to be a journey I’d gladly go on again.