The Short History of the Long Road follows a young woman on the road (literally) to self-discovery, while searching for her estranged mother.
Nola (Sabrina Carpenter) and her father Clint (Steven Ogg) spend their days on the open road, traversing the United States and living day to day, taking odd jobs where they can. This way of life starts to feel like a chore for Nola, who has been longing to find some structure in her life, while at the same time desiring to meet her estranged birth mother. An unexpected departure sees Nola out on her own, with nothing more than her trusty camper-van and a goal.
The Short History of the Long Road focuses heavily on theme of belonging, family, and loyalty, as Nola looks to find her place in the world. She’s tired of her nomadic lifestyle but is loyal to her father, Clint, and is content with following him on his path. Nola ends up on her own, looking for a sense of stability. She finds some semblance of it in the form of an auto body shop owner (Danny Trejo), who gives her a job and a place to stay while she continues to look for her mother. Her journey isn’t an easy one, but her determination is strong.
Sabrina Carpenter does an excellent job in the lead role, essentially carrying the movie on her shoulders. Likewise, Steven Ogg puts in a fine performance as Clint, and the chemistry between them is authentic. Clint’s departure from the narrative feels premature, however, right at a time when the audience really starts to connect with both he and Nola as a formidable team. This doesn’t take too much away from the movie though as Nola’s story continues to intrigue, as she encounters a diverse range of characters while trying to survive on the open road.
The film does a good job stacking the odds against Nola, though we never truly feel like she’s ever in any serious danger. Her intuition and cunning, no doubt attributed to spending years on the road, helps her to navigate her way through the world with a demeanour not befitting her age. This attribute makes for inspiring viewing, especially for anyone in the same demographic as Nola. Director Ani Simon-Kennedy successfully conveys to audiences that there is a way through adversity.
The Short History of the Long Road tells a story of a young person out on their own, making their way in the world without the shelter and security that many people take for granted. While some of the subplots feel tacked on, the core themes of the film still hit the mark, making for an emotional viewing experience with characters that can be invested in.
Sabrina Carpenter is a pop-singer and actress who made her acting debut in the popular TV series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2011.