AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2011
By Don Simpson | October 31, 2011
Director: Michael Cuesta
Writers: Michael Cuesta, Gerald Cuesta
Starring: Ron Eldard, Jill Hennessy, Bobby Cannavale, Lois Smith, David Margulies, Suzette Gunn
Jimmy Testagross (Ron Eldard) — the eponymous protagonist of Michael Cuesta’s Roadie — is a 40-something guy from Queens with an unfortunate last name (that earned him the childhood nickname of “Jimmy Testicles”) who has tirelessly schlepped Blue Öyster Cult’s gear for 26 years, a thankless career if ever there was one. While on the subject of thankless, BOC is leaving for a tour of South America soon, and Jimmy is getting the runaround from the band’s manager. It seems the washed-up band is leaving their washed-up roadie behind.
After dedicating over half of his life to BOC, Jimmy has no friends to speak of and nowhere to go. As Jimmy drifts hopelessly towards destitute poverty, he is drawn closer and closer to his childhood home. But Queens is not a happy place for Jimmy, he “escaped” it for good reason. His high school buddies — the same Neanderthal numskulls such as Bobby (Bobby Canavale) who christened him “Jimmy Testicles” — who stayed behind seem uneducated, adventureless and ambitionless to Jimmy. Bobby is exactly who Jimmy has rebelled against, guys like him are the exact reason he abandoned Queens many years ago. What makes matters worse is that Jimmy’s high school sweetheart, Nikki (Jill Hennessy), married Bobby — how could she settle for someone like him?!
As is often the case for those of us who purposefully moved away from their childhood neighborhoods and dread any return visits, Jimmy’s first means of escape from this harsh reality is alcohol — and lots of it. Reconnecting with Nikki and Bobby further escalates Jimmy’s self-destructive behavior by adding cocaine to his dangerous recipe of escapism.
Roadie accurately represents the conflict between those who have “escaped” their childhood homes and those who chose to stay behind. Cuesta’s dedication to the gritty authenticity of his subject is quite impressive and his casting of Ron Eldard as Jimmy turns out to be divinely inspired.