Matt, a struggling executive, finds his world turned upside down when his estranged father's nurse shows up unexpectedly in his office. Matt's father, a famed bad-boy photojournalist, is facing terminal cancer and his dying wish is for Matt to join him on a road trip from New York to Kansas to process his last rolls of Kodachrome film before the sole remaining lab closes and those captured moments are gone forever.
The great thing about Netflix is that it brings big names to indie films. The idea of Hollywood wanting a film about a father and son going on a road trip to get rolls of Kodachrome developed, is almost laughable. No action, no adventure, nothing fast-paced, and nothing that could be marketable to children. But here we have what would otherwise be considered an indie storyline, but some big Hollywood names attached to it; namely Jason Sudeikis (We're the Millers, Horrible Bosses, Semi-Pro), Elizabeth Olson (The Marvel Cinematic Universe, Oldboy, Godzilla), and Ed Harris (Gravity, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, The Truman Show, Apollo 13).
The synopsis for Kodachrome really tells you everything you need to know regarding the plot. From that alone, you can make certain predictions about how the film will end and you will most likely be right. But the timing is the aspect that you can't really pinpoint ahead of time, and this is what builds tension. You watch as Harris' character Ben reveals his personality to be that of "an assh*le" who is on a journey of redemption at an unconscious level. Harris does a remarkable job at doing so, without hesitation. He reacts to situations in a narcissistic and selfish manner, which makes the audience instantly dislike him. Every moment that Ben is not "a d*ck" is quickly preceded by a moment where he stoops even lower. The real power in his performance comes as you watch him reach the breaking point because of terminal cancer. You have to have a heart of stone to not feel something by the end of the film.
Kodachrome is a slow burner of a film, and the Kodachrome itself is largely unnecessary to the plot development. This is a story of a son who has spent over a decade not speaking to his father, due to a deep-seated hatred that he holds towards him. Helped along by Olsen's role as a reasonably unwilling mediator, the film is an emotional to-and-fro as father and son are forced to come to terms with their past.
Slow and thoughtful, the film isn't rushed, and it makes use of silence, allowing the acting to come to the forefront. A beautifully shot film (of course it was shot on 35mm Kodak film), that is something that the older photographers will appreciate, having been through the transition from analog to digital cameras.
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"Character - the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life - is the source from which self respect springs."
Joan Didion (1934 - ), 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem'