A workable, at times affecting, if familiar story is stretched beyond all reason in the family drama "Broken Roads." The film's epic running time proves about an hour too long given its small cast, modest subject and limited settings.
In truth, writer-director Justin Chambers' intimate, actor-friendly material might have worked better as a tightened two-hander for the stage (no crime in that).
As it stands, however, in telling his tale of Aldo (Aidan Bristow), a grief-stricken 18-year-old forced after his mother's car-crash death to live with the Colorado grandmother (Sally Kirkland) he never knew, the first-time feature filmmaker (he was also a producer and co-editor) shows an uncertain, frequently heavy hand.
It also takes the movie's entire 50-minute first third for Chambers' leads to settle into their patchy roles, with both overdoing the requisite defensive anger thing. Bristow and Kirkland -- along with Shoshana Bush as Aldo's love interest and Rolonda Watts as grandma's longtime neighbor -- have several fine moments as the film goes on (and on) but are still frequently hamstrung by some curious story points and the script's repetitive, often-convoluted dialogue ("There are no victims in life. Life happens to us all." Huh?).
Late-breaking events, including an appearance from Aldo's birth father (Ross Marquand), feel inevitable even for roads as well-traveled as these. Nice cinematography by Michael Moghaddam.
"Broken Roads." No MPAA rating. Running time: 2 hours, 31 minutes. At Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena.