With a goal in mind, Haskel still can't seem to know how to get there. Instead he roams around in loneliness through the midwest, just taking in anything he discovers on the road. From visiting conventions to depressing hotels, he finds himself further and further away from reaching his destination.
This review marks my third review of a film by Joseph Larsen, an extremely interesting filmmaker who makes small, personal stories about different kind of journeys. Sort of. It's a weird way to describe it, but it's the best way I can. In "Tonight, We Stay Indoors", which is his latest flick but the first one I saw, it was the inner journey of a survivor. In "Cosmic Dissonance" (his first flick) it's a post-apocalyptic journey. In "When the Sidewalk Ends" (the second) it's about a man with a destination in mind but he begins to realize he might not get there, or maybe he just can't find the strength to take himself there. What exactly our man, Haskel, is looking for I can't tell you. There are some hints but the journey is the key here. The destination could be anything and it wouldn't change the film in almost any way.
Although "When the Sidewalk Ends" comes off as a bit more of a narrative story than the others, I think this is my least favorite of the three. It might be because of the movie, or it could possibly be that after having watched two movies similar in style before, a third was a bit too much. I love Joseph Larsen's way of telling a story, I find it very unique and inspiring to see what can be made with a little effort. But I have said this before - I would love to see another side of him, which I already knew going into it that "When the Sidewalk Ends" wouldn't offer. But then again, I could also like this one less because the journey and the character bringing us isn't as intriguing and mysterious to me. The lead character feels like a very average Joe and I couldn't find myself as interested in his story in the same way.
In the end though, I have to get back to what I have said before. Joseph Larsen makes movies in a way that almost no one does. His style is minimalistic, claustrophobic and philosophical on a very personal level. It brings us down to one person's life, at a certain period of their life, and just lets us observe. Not because it has something specific to show us, and not because it wants to tell us something, but because we're willing to be there. To make this sort of film is probably more brave than trying to make the most extreme shit out there, since this is most definitely something that only a few people will enjoy. An extreme movie can achieve notoriety even if its bad, but a movie simply about a man or woman going somewhere, with nearly no dialog? It takes a lot more to make, and a lot more to watch. Joseph Larsen's unapologetic filmmaking is to admire.
"When the Sidewalk Ends" takes you on a journey that you won't see the end of, as it takes a very realistic turn. Which means realizing that maybe the journey isn't worth taking. If you haven't watched a film by Joseph Larsen yet then I'm sure you can start anywhere in his filmography, but if you plan to watch it all then I think you should know that the films are very similar in certain styles.