There is a certain lifestyle I believe that surrounds owning a motorcycle. I feel there comes a sense of freedom and a different perspective on the world. Films and televisions shows like Easy Rider, The Wild One and Sons of Anarchy have captured this lifestyle of the rebel attitude. The newest entry in the motorcycle lineage is a film by writer/director/star Carmine Cangialosi titled American Dresser. Lined with a slew of notable/strong actors it stars Tom Berenger (Platoon, Major League) as John Moore, a Vietnam veteran who has recently lost his wife of thirty years played by Gina Gershon (Bound, Face/Off). To regain some sort of order in his life and be a father again to his two daughters he decides to head west for a cross country trip on his bike. John’s best friend Charlie, played by Keith David (Platoon, They Live), tags along as he faces his own harsh realities.
The film chronicles the duo’s journey and their encounters with some of the characters this country has to offer. While not on the same level as Easy Rider where those characters defined a generation this film instead mainly focuses on John and Charlie’s friendship and their own personal journey. The film also stars Bruce Dern (Nebraska, The Burbs) and Penelope Ann Miller (The Artist, Carlito’s Way) in cameo roles, both offering solid performances. Personally I felt Dern’s character as a lonely drifter although compelling did not add anything to the story overall aside from offering the past, present and future connection between Dern, John and Willie, played by Cangialosi himself. That also seems to be a reoccurring theme in my opinion where some of the events that happen to John and Charlie feel out of place. In addition to Dern’s scene I felt the house party and police scenes were out of place; although offering another solid performance from Jeff Fahey (Lost, Planet Terror) as Officer Calhoun. I think the film would have faired better with different actions taking place.
The film is filled with top notch performances and I genuinely felt the camaraderie between Berenger and David. The scenes between Berenger and Gershon also shine but I also would have liked to see flashbacks of different moments in their relationship instead of focusing on their last anniversary dinner. This isn’t to say I did not enjoy this film, which I did especially in its performances, I just would have preferred scenes giving more focus on the main characters personal struggle and redemption. Cangialosi as well is intriguing as the drifter Willie and he was a welcomed addition into the crew.
I look forward to seeing more of Cangialosi’s work as he was able to captivate me with the performances he captured on camera with everyone involved. His sense of storytelling is engaging for the viewer as I felt connections to John and Charlie. I would recommend this to anyone a fan of the film’s actors and to those looking to escape onto the open highway for a fun ride.
2.5 out of 5
Film Releases in Theaters Friday 9/21
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