Interview With DETOUR Director Christopher Smith
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by: Jerry Smith
Making the wrong decision can lead to a series of additional bad decisions and what better subgenre illustrates just that idea than the always reliable crime Noir? Typically setup for a decent yet flawed character who just happens to make a mistake, setting off a chain of events that is always fun to watch, the crime Noir thriller subgenre is front and center (and quite exhilarating) in TRIANGLE/SEVERANCE director Christopher Smith's DETOUR (now in select theaters and on VOD). Following a young law student (JOE's Tye Sheridan) whose stepfather might be guilty of trying to bump off his mom for her life insurance, the film sees Sheridan's character making the very wrong decision of hiring a rough and ruthless thug (THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINE's Emory Cohen) and his girlfriend (Bell Powley, THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, the VERY good Drake Doremus film EQUALS) to potentially bump the sketchy stepfather (True Blood's Stephen Moyer) off. In true Noir fashion, things just go downhill from there. We spoke to DETOUR director Christopher Smith about the film, its inspiration and why the genre is just that damn good.
**JERRY SMITH (JS) :
I've got to say, DETOUR is yet another surprising move on your part. I loved the film and it really shows how all across the board your filmmaking can be.
CHRISTOPHER SMITH (CS):
Thank you, it means a lot to hear that you liked it.
The crime Noir subgenre has always been one of my favorites and I'm curious, what was the inspiration for the film? There's another film also called DETOUR that would make for a good double feature.
Yes, that film and I had always wanted to make a film like STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. I actually had the idea for this film before I had made some of my previous films but for one reason or another, those came together a lot easier. The opportunity finally arrived where I could the film so I jumped at it.
That's awesome. Both of those films are so good and what's great is that the theme of a pretty decent guy getting in way over his head is really front and center in both of those films as well as yours.
Yeah and there's a line in the film where one of the characters asks, "Why didn't you just hire a lawyer?", and it's that small mistake of making the wrong decision that pushes the situation to the point where no matter what happens, there's really no turning back. Even if somebody walks away from the mistake, it'll stay with them for the rest of their lives and that's always something that's interested me.
I've always felt that you could have an excellent script but without the right cast, a film can sink very quickly. I loved DETOUR's casting decisions, all three of the film's leads are really great in it.
I was lucky to find such a great cast. I had seen JOE so Tye Sheridan was somebody I wanted to work with and Emory (Cohen) has a real presence to him. I hadn't seen THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL at first but when Bell came in, she had a real human quality to her and I've since seen that film and it really shows in everything she's done.
Is a big fan of films that give you characters that are similar to either people you might have known in your life or people you might have been yourself at one point or another. This type of film really highlights those kind of characters, the good people (and bad) who just happen to slip up at some point. What is It that you think makes these films so enjoyable?
Well, it's like you said, these are people who you could have known or do know. It's easier to get into a film when the characters are human, people who aren't necessarily bad people, but are just in bad situations. I've always loved films like that and I try to put that into most of what I do.
It's a series of decisions that make the next decision worse and worse. I wanted to make the film a look at how one person could have two ways to go, one would lead to a better outcome and if he took the other route, we would see the outcome of that.
Definitely, you did that very well.
Thank you Jerry! It means a lot to have you support the film.