Jordan Roberts on 'Around the Bend'
Revealing part of your personal life on the big screen can be a big risk, but one that, hopefully, will pay off for Jordan Roberts, writer and director of the family film Around the Bend. Roberts has been an additional writer on many screenplays including films such as Road to Perdition. He spent more then 10 years working on Around the Bend, a film based on true experiences about four men in a family who learn about each other and themselves.
“It took a long time to get a version that contained the right emotion,” said Roberts. “I really kept dodging the emotion until about 18 months after my father passed away. That’s when I wrote a draft that didn’t dodge the emotional truths, and the script went into production very fast afterward.”
While the movie is funny at times and does have the adorable 6-year-old Jonah Bobo as a lead, Around the Bend is truly a family film.
“Yes, it has several elements. There are no jokes in my movie,” Roberts said. “I’m attracted to comedy that comes out of walk-a-day reality and human behavior. This will appeal to anyone who has a family. It’s about masculine emotion around the emotional lives of men who leave their family and the way that decision will haunt them years later. There is always a hope for reparation if not redemption. I find the act of Turner (Christopher Walken) himself to be highly courageous.”
Roberts never expected such an incredible cast on a low-budget film. “This speaks to the tenacity of the script and the courage to be willing to tell a true story,” he said. “The actors responded to the story and what was on that page. They weren’t paid what they’re worth; they did it because they felt the honest and truthfulness of the script.”
Some first-time directors might have been intimidated by directing such high-caliber talents as Walken and Michael Caine. “It did surprise me how much they needed me as a writer,” explained Roberts, “so that was the door through which I walked as a director. They didn’t know these characters and didn’t know the relationships as well as I did, so that demanded my filling in the gaps. That was a great gift.”
Roberts was amazed at what Caine and Walken brought to the story. “Chris is slightly withholding; he’s constantly asking the audience to come towards him. Since he’s occupying a character who is an object of longing for Jason (Josh Lucas), he was perfect for the role. Caine is a consummate gentleman, gracious and incredibly friendly.”
Lucas plays a character very different from himself. “Jason is an incomplete person,” explained Roberts. “Not a damaged or broken person, but an incomplete person by virtue of this hole in his life called ‘father.’ Josh had a very similar idea about the character.”
Everyone is talking about Jonah Bobo who plays Zach. “I would love to take credit for his performance but I cannot,” said Roberts. “He did everything in one or two takes. He was a joy.”
Crossing several generations, Around the Bend has some great music. “Those were songs that are on my IPOD and ones that I love,” said Roberts, “except for the two written for the film, ‘Even A Prisoner Can Dream’ and ‘Someday When You’re Young Again.’ My composer, David Baerwald, who has worked on films such as Moulin Rouge, did a great job.”
A good script, great cast and impressive cinematography by Michael Brady add up to a delightful film. “It’s about that hole that we carry for those members of our family, people close to us who have gone,” said Roberts. “But it’s very funny and quite entertaining as well.”