Crammed to the brim with swooning cinephilia and shattered fourth walls, Monte Hellman's meta-thriller milks a let's-get-lost vibe for all it's worth; you're never sure where the Mbius strip ends and the movie itself begins. Filmmaker Mitchell Haven (Runyan) is helming a thriller based on a true-life political scandal involving graft, murder and a femme fatale (Sossamon). He's obsessed with casting a comely young nonprofessional for his lead, one who bears a startling resemblance to the actual mystery woman; given that Sossamon also plays the ingenue, you can see where this is leading. Or maybe you can't, since every time you start to get a grasp on the movie's plot, chronological shifts and the sudden appearances of film crews ensure that the real-to-reel ratio becomes wildly imbalanced.
Calling Road to Nowhere a noir is like referring to Hellman's cult classic Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) as a road movie: Technically correct genre assignations hardly do justice to either work's existential ennui and elliptical, Euro-jagged style. The Corman alum's signature moody bluesiness almost makes up for the way his suspense flick continually trips over its own loop-the-loops, and for all of Hellman's hat tips to bygone film eras---cue shoehorned-in clips of The Lady Eve and The Seventh Seal---the genuine homages seem to be directed toward David Lynch's surreal Dream Factory nightmares. The Mulholland Drive director would have properly realized this nugget's potential to become a true Pale Fire of B-movie pulp fictions, however. Plus, he would have included dwarves.
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