Road Duster is the film adaptation of J. Kessels: the Novel, the cult Dutch literary work by P.F. Thomése.
Frans (Fedja van Huët) is a crime writer in the middle of a creative block, struggling to create his next bestseller. Given an ultimatum by his publisher to get it finished, he types his opening line – 'It all started with one of those telephone calls that you hope you won't receive' – so when his phone simultaneously then rings Frans answers… and off we go!
Frans' conjures up J. Kessels (Frank Lammers), a chain smoking tough guy with a heart of gold and a habit of including English expressions into his Dutch dialogue ('goddamit!'). It is quickly clear that Kessels (and indeed Frans) never really grew up and life revolves around beer, fags and country & western music!
The film draws much of its inspiration from typically American musical and aesthetic elements embodied in a powerful and occasionally hilarious script. Kessels and Frans are a team of fearless crime fighters, but that only serves to create misunderstandings at every turn in the development of Frans' plot!
Their mission is to kidnap a philandering criminal and return him to his wife. Frans only accepts the job because the caller is the younger brother of BB, or Brigit, who was once the focus of little Frans' adolescent dreams and sexual awakening.
Frans hopes that, after thirty-five years, the trip will drive him into the arms of the object of his childhood affection.
Our heroes ride in an old Toyota Kamikaze roadster from provincial Holland to the Hamburg Reeperbahn and back again as we see that the author is no longer sure if his novel is the product of his own imagination or if he is merely a supporting character in someone else's story.
The plot twists and turns from a simple missing person case and visit to the seedy Reeperbahn porn shops and prostitutes into a violent encounter with a Turkish pimp. Frans has to cope with rebelling characters – even Kessels starts to rebel against Frans' ingeniously constructed plot. And all the while Frans has yet to re-encounter his 'dream girl', BB.
Road Duster is a surreal comedic road trip movie with a bittersweet trip down memory lane for Frans.
Dynamic editing between close-ups and fast-paced shots accentuates the disconcerting blend of reality and fiction. Excellent cinematography accentuates the restless and unpredictable nature of this film.
This is crazy mixed up fun but as we hear in the final frames of the film the most important thing seems to be 'not the destination, but the journey'.