Anthem: An American Road Story 

1997 • PassionRiver • $29.98

Backstory
Two chicks with a video camera, a dream (and a Sundance grant) go on a car ride to interview Americans and find out what the American Dream means to them.

Feature
Jack Kerouac has a lot to answer for. The road novel, which in turned spawned the road film, is an irresistible instrument through which to zeitgeist the state of the nation. This doc of modest means but vast ambitions is made with raffish charm by a couple of 20-something gals who make much of their off-the cuff approach, likely as a stanch against the flow of criticism. Their meandering car journey makes altogether too much of the process, documenting their false starts and missed opportunities in trying to interview notable and or famous figures to find out what they think the American Dream is. It has a tone that implicitly hopes to be liked and explicitly strives for relevance, narrating platitudes about the journey you find being unexpected, and other such well-worn phrases.
When they do nail down their interview subjects, they squeeze out some compelling footage with the likes of Studs Terkel, Hunter S. Thompson or George McGovern, along with more obscure activist types who thankfully have a more cynically tinged view of “The American Dream”. Unfortunately they have a tendency to let subjects ramble a bit and can’t help summing up their journey mid stream not once, not twice but thricely!

Extras
Nope

Verdict

Earnest, heartfelt and occasionally enlightening, but about twice as long as necessary.

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