'The Motel Life' explores brotherly love in a seedy, sad setting

Fri Nov 8, 2013 9:08am EST
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By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "The Motel Life," a gritty brotherhood drama that plays out among the down and out in Nevada's seedy underbelly, begins and ends with the inevitable: death.

In between it is open to interpretation, says its soft-spoken star Emile Hirsch, who plays Frank, the bright and devoted younger brother to the emotionally troubled Jerry Lee, portrayed by Stephen Dorff.

"You could say it's a nihilist drama about the inevitability of sadness or you could view it as an uplifting story about how love for your brother transcends time and space," Hirsch said in an interview.

The independent film directed by brothers Alan and Gabriel Polsky will be released in the United States on Friday, a year after its debut at the Rome Film Fest, where it won the audience award as well as best screenplay and cinematography prizes.

The film is based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Willy Vlautin.

It tells the story of the fatherless and heavy-drinking Flannigan brothers who drift from motel to motel in Nevada after their mother's death when they are young, scraping by with odd jobs.

"It didn't really matter about what material possessions they had," said Hirsch, who is best known for his role as hiker Christopher McCandless in the acclaimed 2007 biopic "Into the Wild." "Even though they were in hard-luck circumstances, they both stuck up for each other."

The brothers' lives are shaken once more when Jerry Lee accidentally hits and kills a teenage cyclist during a snowstorm in Reno, Nevada. Panicked, he dumps the body near a hospital and flees.   Continued...

Directors Alan and Gabe (R) Polsky pose with actor Stephen Dorff (C) during the photocall for the movie "The Motel Life" at the Rome Film Festival in this November 16, 2012, file photo. REUTERS/Max Rossi/Files