The opposite of a music documentary. The Road Becomes What You Leave is the best thing I’ve seen in ages. I’ll go so far to say it is the best shot documentary about music that I have yet to witness. Weeks back when others were going gaga for Heima and I was only slightly impressed, I could not have foreseen that I would have the same sort of transcendent experience with a film one-sixth of the duration. As I have written on my other blog, Ineffable Media, I’m in love with the music of Jason Molina (aka Magnolia Electric Co.) Thus, I am naturally inclined to embrace this DVD, at the same time short duration of this DVD is the biggest disappointment I’ve had in ages.
The band is barely visible throughout. Fans are shot starry-eyed in tight close-ups. There is scant dialog and that which is audible is superfulous. Mostly, this is a landscape film lovingly composed of images of the Canadian prairie and small desolate towns. Snippets of Magnolia Electric Co. songs play over top theses images of isolation and loneliness. never is a full song heard. I find great beauty and courage in that decision, just as I find it highly admirable that filmmakers Todd Chandler and Tim Sutton have foregone the need for interviews or insight into the band. The images, like the songs themselves, are windows into the mind man behind the band. Highest praise must go to cinematographer Ava Berkofsky.