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From Unhinged to Breakdown: Why are filmmakers so drawn to road rage?

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You don’t want to honk your horn at Russell Crowe. That is one of the main lessons gleaned from the trailer for Crowe’s new action film Unhinged, due to be released in US cinemas next month.

Crowe plays “the man”, an overweight driver in a pick-up truck who is having a very bad day. In heavy traffic, Rachel (Caren Pistorius), a young mother stuck behind his vehicle, gets angry that he is holding her up and pushes her horn. He tries to apologise, she doesn’t accept and she certainly won’t apologise to him in turn. That is when he becomes… unhinged. He follows her, steals her phone, and generally tries to ruin her life.

Unhinged, directed by Derrick Borte, is the latest in a long line of road rage movies. Judging by the trailer, it’s a formulaic affair, another by the numbers thriller. Nonetheless, it might be just what is needed to get filmgoers out of their homebound, post-lockdown apathy. US cinema owners are clearly hoping that Unhinged will appeal to audiences who’ve been cooped up for too long, who are suffering from a bad dose of cabin fever and looking for a way to vent their frustrations. Crowe is ostensibly the villain but many are likely to feel a little nagging sympathy for him. This summer’s coronavirus pandemic has left many broiling with the same anger and anxiety that drivers feel when they are caught in a never-ending traffic jam, stuck in their vehicles, and beginning to feel more and more resentful of others around them.

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