The Bottom Line: "Now I'm just rolling home Into my lover's arms This much I know is true That God blessed the broken road That led me straight to you" ~Boyd, Hanna, Hummon
Director Udayan Prasad joined with screenwriter Erin Dignan to adapt the 1982 Yoji Yamada Japanese film, The Yellow Handkerchief [ Shiawase no kiiroi hankachi], which originated from a column by Pete Hamill while he was in Japan. It was nominated for no awards in the US although the Japanese version years ago received high praise. It has a PG-13 rating for mild sexual content, two semi-violent scenes, and [?] thematic elements [?]. I guess road trips, loneliness and romance are construed as thematic.
The story: We open with Brett being released from prison after a six-year stint. There is no one to meet him as he walks through the gates except a long, dusty road. As he makes his way to the nearest town and enters a small eating establishment/gas station type building, he settles down for a long awaited cold beer. Out of the corner of his eye he views a young girl being dissed by her boyfriend in the parking lot and a quirky young boy discussing his Native American roots with the cashier. He is about as Native American looking as Nicole Kidman.
When the young girl, Martine, enters the establishment, the boy, Gordy, strikes up a conversation. At first she shies away from him but she is so hurt by the shun from her former boyfriend, she decides to join him on a road trip. Gordy has no destination in mind, he is just traveling the roads and taking in the sights in a beat up convertible, with a camera in hand. As they wait for the ferry to cross the river it begins to rain, in buckets, and Martine approaches Brett, who is also waiting for the ferry, and asks him to join them on their trip. Truth being, Martine is only 15 and doesn't necessarily want to be alone with his gawky and awkward boy.
As the three travel the backroads of Louisana, their stories begin to unfold. Brett reveals his past, along with his great love, May; Gordy tells small snippets of his own short history; Martine reveals little with words but more through her actions. In the end they all show what an encompassing loneliness they have and try to resolve their problems.
The actors: William Hurt is Brett Hanson. This is a perfect vehicle for him to expose his acting ability. His story is slowly developed, first through flashbacks then, finally, in his own voice. His facial acting was as telling as the words he spoke. Several times he was washed with a variety of emotions in just a few moments. An outstanding performance.
Not having seen the Twilight series I had no preconceptions of Kristen Stewart as Martine. She appeared, in this film, the embodiment of a teenage girl suffering from an estranged relationship with her absentee father, no mother on the scene, and typical angst. While she seemed flighty at times I passed it off to the part she was trying to convey.
Gordy was played by Eddie Redmayne. With his youthful, freckled, face he appeared almost nerdy at times. His character was an overpowering one although it was blanketed by a shy and awkward nature. As aggravated as you were at him at the beginning of the film, it wasn't long before you grew a warm spot for him and, by the end of the movie, you liked him completely.
The elusive May was played through cameo appearances, mostly in flashbacks, by Maria Bello. Actually she had little to offer in the role, it was so limited.
DVD extras: scene selection; languages
Overall impression: It was a slow movie, which I didn't mind at all but with no action many others may not care for it overall. The majority of the film is inside the convertible, driving through the countryside, so it relies entirely on the delivery of the three main characters to keep it interesting.
Their stories develop at a languid pace, mainly with Brett & May, so you continually wait for the next interlude to find out more. The background of Gordy & Martine isn't as developed and you are left to your own conclusions about their pasts.
Filming was clear and crisp, sometimes a little too perfect and cliched, and sound was clearly audible. Post Katrina shots never fail to etch your soul but the road shots prior to that were beautiful.
I enjoyed the film, I'm a sucker for acting based films over action packed films [except for King Kong and Godzilla], so it suited me fine.
My grateful thanks to Mona, Movie CL, for another prompt addition despite the pesky photo problem :)
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