Film review The Roads Not Taken. (R)

Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning

Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning - Credit: Archant

In a depressingly nihilistic film Javier Bardem’s character explores three versions of the life he might have led and all of them are miserable

If there are an infinite number of universes, splintered realities formed every time we make a decision, then there must be a few where Javier Bardem makes cheerful films. Some, but not many. For him, the multiverse is a series of glass half empties.

Here his character Leo flicks between three alternate realities, in each of which he is miserable. In one of these, he is married to Salma Hayek, which you might expect to put a bit of wind into his willow, but in that reality they are grieving for a lost son. In another he is an author of upbeat children books – no of course not, he’s a suffering artist.

In the main one, presumably the real one from which the other two are imagined, he is suffering from some form of dementia, living in a crummy New York apartment being helped around town by his daughter (Fanning.)

The incredibly drab choice of title is indicative of the lack of interest and energy with which the film tackles its subject. It has nothing to reveal other than he made a couple of choices that profoundly affected his life, but it would have turned out badly whichever path he took. Sally Potter’s movie seems as deflated by this conclusion as the audience. That’s some sedentary nihilism for you.

2/5 stars

Starring Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Branka Katic, Milena Tscharntke, Laura Linney and Salma Hayek. Partly subtitled. In cinemas. 85 mins.