‘Motel Life’ puts Valley on big screen
Carson Valley was front and center when filming of “The Motel Life” arrived here in the winter of 2011.
Using locales such as the J.T. Basque Bar & Dining Room, the Holiday Lodge and a snowy field in Genoa, where they set a station wagon on fire, the film crew spent a week in Carson Valley.
Stars Emile Hirsch, Stephen Dorff and Dakota Fanning were in Western Nevada during the filming, which drew crowds from around the area.
The trailer shows the iconic drawing of Jean Lekumberry on the window of the J.T., as Hirsch and Fanning sit in the dining room.
The restaurant’s kitchen also served as a setting for the movie.
Starting with an advanced screening of the movie at the University of Nevada, Reno, on Nov. 2, the film will be in limited release next month, not quite three years later.
The advanced screening at 6 p.m. in the Joe Crowley Student Union Theater will be followed up by a Nov. 8 release in theaters on iTunes and On Demand.
The movie premiered at the Rome Film Festival last year, where it won the audience award for best screenplay and editing.
Based on Nevada native Willy Vlautin’s 2007 novel of the same name, the movie tells the story of two Reno brothers on the run after one hits and kills a bicyclist.
Carson Valley and Carson City stood in for Elko and other Nevada towns along the way.
J.T. co-owner Marie Lekumberry said she saw the movie at the Mill Valley Film Festival when she was in the Bay Area.
“I have to say it’s got a lot of heart,” she said. “The book it’s based on, “The Motel Life,” you can just tell from reading his stuff that he’s got a lot of heart and that definitely translated into the movie.”
Lekumberry said it appeared everything the crew filmed in Carson Valley made it into the movie.
“I was in love with seeing so much of Nevada on the big screen,” she said. “That was really exciting.”
Lekumberry said that people could tell that the film crew had a lot of respect for the material.
“You could tell everyone on the shoot had read the book, and there was a lot of good feeling for the author and how that translated to the screen.”
While Lekumberry recommended the film, she said it might not be for everyone.
“It’s kind of a dark movie,” she said. “Don’t expect a happy Hollywood ending. We’re definitely hoping it comes to a local movie theater.”