After missing my opportunity to see Roadie, the new film by Michael Cuesta, at this past year’s Tribeca Film Festival, I was glad to see that it has been picked up and will be moving on to more venues across the country. My personal interest in wanting to see this movie, I suppose, stems from the fact that I spend a great deal of time at concerts (roughly 30 – 40 in the past year) and have always had an interest (though perhaps unrealized until the making of this film) in the men and women who make the concerts happen—the roadies. Although this film is certainly not a day-in-the-life view, it did help me to gain perspective, and, more importantly, the film introduced me to the extremely well-developed and complex group of characters that this film circles around, including Ron Eldard as Jimmy Testagross, a.k.a., The Roadie.
The movie opens with a scene of Jimmy on the phone, receiving word that he has not been hired to go on the road with heavy metal band Blue Oyster Cult as he had done for the last 20+ years. Angry and upset, he then soon realizes that he does not have a place to call “home,” so he returns to Forest Hills, Queens to see his elderly mother (Lois Smith). As the film unfolds over the course of several days, we meet two of Jimmy’s high school friends, Nikki and Bobby (Jill Hennessey and Bobby Cannavale), who are now married to each other. As Jimmy runs into people from his neighborhood that he knows, his explanation of what he’s been up to for the past 20 years is stretched further and further. He first tells people that he was a roadie, then tells people that he was the band’s manager, and then finally says he wrote and produced songs for the band, which we come to find is not true. Watching Jimmy find himself and his new identity, post-Blue Oyster Cult, is particularly fascinating.
What is so engrossing about this film though, aside from the rich character development, is the chemistry that exists between Jimmy and Nikki. Although Nikki is married to Bobby, who quickly proves to be an unlikable, immature loser (frequently referring to Jimmy as “Testicles” instead of “Testagross” among many other things), there is such romantic tension between Jimmy and Nikki that you can’t help but hope the two of them will run off together. Additionally, the relationship that exists between Jimmy and his mother and the way that it changes throughout the course of the movie is also quite compelling. Overall, this is an extremely well-crafted, well-acted film that is absolutely worth checking out.