In the opening seconds of Romantic Road, Rupert Grey – one of the film’s subjects – is asked “What makes for a great story?”. “Truth” is his answer. And indeed the story we bare witness to over the course of the documentary’s 80 minute running time is entirely factual, which is probably what makes it so grand.
In their mid-60’s and blissfully retired, Rupert, a once-high powered lawyer, and his wife Jan, a former corrections officer, live a simple life in the South of England in a rural cottage. They’re happily surrounded by animals, they still receive the milkman every morning, and their one prized possession is a hand-me-down 1936 Rolls Royce; Rupert’s father having told him that the car has done enough mileage equivalent of driving to the moon.
Always the adventurous and eccentric type, Rupert almost has an insatiable hunger to experience life. Jan is far more reserved, a calming presence in Rupert’s life that serves as the ying to his yang. She is completely open to joining Rupert on any of his adventures though, freely admitting that had she not met him, her life would be more reflective of the quiet soul she ultimately is.
Redefining the status of retirement, Rupert and Jan throw caution to the wind and embark on a 6-month journey across India, from Mumbai to Dhakar – in their Rolls, no less. Wars of words with Indian officials, treacherous road problems, and tribal conflicts follow, but their journey is peppered with just as much joy too, especially when Romantic Road presents the manner in which Rupert and Jan are both treated by the Indian people, many of whom still view white-coloured people as superior, and the couple’s advanced age welcomes an air of respect from the locals also.
Deliberately de-glamourising itself from a cinematography point of view, Romantic Road is all heart and soul, letting its natural aesthetic do the talking. The intimate structure adhered to by director Oliver McGarvey means we as an audience are practically immersed in the Grey’s journey, falling in adoration with them as they fall further in love with each other.
Romantic Road (PG) is screening as part of this year’s MINI British Film Festival (Brisbane October 30th – November 24th 2019). For more information and session times click here