A teenage girl named Nola (Sabrina Carpenter) grew up living out of a van with her charismatic father, Clint (Steven Ogg); two nomads against the world. When tragedy strikes, Nola must confront the reality of life on the road alone. She’ll need to take the wheel for the first time learning to own her grief, her past, and her new destination.
Ani Simon-Kennedy’s The Short History of the Long Road starts off simple enough as we see Nola and her father Clint going on road trips with one another. They stop by a local movie theatre, get pizza, and just live their lives the way they want to. If you were to tell me that within the span of an hour and thirty minutes, this film would take me on an emotional rollercoaster, I am not too sure I would have believed you. But alas, The Short History of the Long Road is the greatest film I’ve seen in a long, long time. It’s so full of life and wonder and deals with themes such as family and love in ways that were equal parts touching and heartbreaking.
Not only does Ani Simon-Kennedy direct the film excellently, but she also pens one of the quietest and thoughtful scripts in years. The development that is given to lead protagonist Nola is truly outstanding. Throughout the course of the film, we really do get to know who she is, and after watching it all, I genuinely felt like I knew her in some way.
This is a movie that, for some, will be considered boring because there really isn’t any big scene that propels the plot forward as you would expect. We often watch scene after scene of Nola working on fixing up her van, or her interacting with people she meets during her journey, and seeing the little steps were deeply appreciated. Some filmmakers would have told the story of this film in a much different way. Seeing what the movie was eventually building to caused me to get teary-eyed and swept away completely.
But without a doubt, my favorite aspect of the already excellent film was definitely Sabrina Carpenter’s lead performance as Nola. I have been a massive fan of Carpenter’s music ever since the release of her album Singular: Act I. Her music has meant something to me for a long time now. Apart from her singing career, Carpenter has previously starred in Disney shows such as Girl Meets World and other, more serious ventures like 2018’s The Hate U Give.
This is not only Carpenter’s best work as an actress yet, but one of the greatest performances of the year thus far. She feels one-hundred percent invested in this character and brings absolutely everything to the table. It would honestly be a massive shame if she doesn’t get tons of recognition come awards season. She needs to get an Oscar nomination.
Thanks to her wonderous work here, as well as the outstanding screenplay and direction from Ani Simon-Kennedy, The Short History of the Long Road is a captivating coming-of-age tale unlike anything you’ll ever see. It will keep you invested from the beginning all the way to the end of the road. Pun intended.
Overall Grade: A+
MPAA Rating: N/A
Directed by: Ani Simon-Kennedy
Distributed by: N/A
Release Date: June 15, 2020
Running Time: 90 minutes