Tribeca: “The Roadie” screwed up, he just doesn’t want to admit

This entry was posted on 23.04.2011

Ron Heldard, Jill Hennessy and Bobby Cannavale in "Roadie". Photo: image.net

Ron Heldard, Jill Hennessy and Bobby Cannavale in "Roadie". Photo: image.net

After 26 years on the road with Blue Öyster Cult, Jimmy gets kicked out in the middle of nowhere. He must have screwed up pretty badly. Now the Roadie (which is also the title of Michael Cuesta’s new feature, premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival) has to get his life together – Jimmy hasn’t slept in his own bed for more than 20 years, he doesn’t even know how to make coffee. Let’s face it: Jimmy is pretty fucked.

Not that the roadie would admit it to his mother or his old friends back home in Forest Hills, Queens. He doesn’t even want to admit what he was doing: schlepping for a rock band that had its heyday back in the Seventies. Roadies are an invaluable part of a rock tour; without them, no music show would happen. But individually they are very replaceable.

Jimmy (Ron Eldard, “Black Hawk Down”, “Already Dead” with Til Schweiger) wants to believe it’s different. Basically, he is managing Blue Öyster Cult, he tells everybody. And oh yeah, he also wrote and produced a few of the songs on their latest album. Never mind that that came out in 2001 and really wasn’t a success. So would he consider any changes in this life? “Why reinvent something that’s already perfect?” he tells his mother.

His mom (Lois Smith, “True Blood”) – a very catholic, hard woman – doesn’t really believe any of this. When Jimmy shows up in her home in Queens, she secretly knows that he is not going to stay just for the day before he goes on tour with BÖC in South America. Even though he still has hopes and keeps calling the band, getting more desperate and insulting every time nobody picks up. He knows they want, and throughout the movie he is always on the edge of breaking down.

His old girlfriend Nikki Stevens (Jill Hennessy, “Crossing Jordan”) and her husband, the bullying Bobby (Bobby Cannavale, “Win Win”, “Cold Case” ), don’t really believe Jimmy either. Nikki and Bobby are very comfortable in Forest Hills where the glamour of Manhattan seems to be so far away. Nikki became a singer-songwriter in the last few years. Her gigs are successful, she says – 30 people usually show up. She wants to believe in Jimmy, maybe he could even help her push her career.

But pretty soon it becomes clear how distant they are. Jimmy just doesn’t fit into the small world of New York’s outer boroughs anymore, but he has nowhere else ago.

Make no mistake: Despite the title, “Roadie” is neither a road movie nor a rock’n'roll movie. Most of it plays around 72nd Avenue in Queens, and you will hear lots of classic rock, but you won’t see a single shot of Blue Öyster Cult playing. Michael Cuesta directed a movie about a guy who has to find a completely new identity just when others settle down. Will he be able to? That’s the big question.

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