Three years after debuting her eighth feature film at the Berlin Film Festival (the star-studded and bruising black comedy “The Party”), British auteur Sally Potter is gearing up for another big festival debut. This time around, Potter is moving her action and attention to New York City in the form of “The Roads Not Taken,” a new drama starring Javier Bardem and Elle Fanning as a father-daughter duo embarking on an emotional visit over the course of one day in the city. The film will premiere in competition at Berlin, where it will go up against new films from Eliza Hittman, Kelly Reichardt, Abel Ferrara, Christian Petzold, and Hong Sangsoo.
Per the film’s official synopsis, it “follows a day in the life of Leo (Javier Bardem) and his daughter, Molly (Elle Fanning) as she grapples with the challenges of her father’s chaotic mind. As they weave their way through New York City, Leo’s journey takes on a hallucinatory quality as he floats through alternate lives he could have lived, leading Molly to wrestle with her own path as she considers her future.” The film also stars Branka Katic, Milena Tscharntke, Laura Linney, and Salma Hayek.
The film’s first trailer weaves a hypnotic story in just two minutes, one rooted in the apparent present, with Fanning’s Molly fighting for her addled father to pull himself out of some sort of strange state, while Leo’s mind is busy wandering between his “real” life with Molly and two other lives that might not have ever happened, yet still continue to effect him.
It’s a literal manifestation of the famous poem from which the film takes its title: “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, which toys with ideas of self-determination and destiny. What if Leo did take the road “less traveled by” but also managed to choose two other paths as well? It’s a dramatic mind-bender, and one that Potter and her game cast appear to have rendered in emotional terms.
Check out the first trailer for “The Roads Not Taken” below. The film will premiere in competition at Berlin later this month, and Bleecker Street will release it in select theaters on Friday, March 13.