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|Index||29 reviews in total|
A perfect crescendo. During an admittedly slow first half of the film,
the audience is drawn in to the actors and the cajun background, its
lush greenery and its languid place in Americana.
The actors hold up brilliantly at this pace -- William Hurt is a standout and a more-than-worthwhile Oscar candidate as the sullen, "ghost"-like ex-con and Eddie Redmayne jumps to the fore as a bizarre, overgrown child. The scenery and the pull of post-Katrina New Orleans is powerful, forcing personal choices and sticking in the back of our minds.
Then, when the action turns, and the plot suddenly speeds forward for the latter half of the movie, the viewer has already been drawn so deep inside these rich, pained characters and the twisted swampland that its emotional force, punctuated by minute changes in Hurt's eyes, knowingly elicits empathy and sympathy.
The force of the movie is the slowness, the languid pace that draws the viewer in, and the acting, as good an ensemble as anything that I've viewed this year. It is slow, but slow can be good, good as a cajun conversation.
We saw this as part of a preview cinema club we belong to. And we're
happy we did.
The Road Movie is one of Hollywood's long-standing (some would say overused) idioms. From It Happened One Night through Butch Cassidy, Bonnie & Clyde, and Thelma & Louise, to Little Miss Sunshine, good road movies can be a joy. Bad ones, though, are a major drag.
This is a GOOD road movie. Three things make it special. First, it's about three losers, or -- let's just say it -- weird people. None of these characters start out with much appeal (except Kristen Stewart's great looks), but each grows right in front of our eyes throughout the movie. By the end, we like and find ourselves rooting for each, for different reasons. (In this way, the film reminds me most of the wonderful Hackman/Pacino 1970s vehicle Scarecrow, a much under-appreciated film.)
Second, there is splendid acting throughout. Kristen Stewart is headed for stardom, William Hurt does justice to a role only Jeff Bridges could play as well (have we forgotten what a great actor he is?), and the most surprising piece, young British actor Eddie Redmayne, does a terrific turn as a strange kid with a car.
Third, there's the film's perspective, about tolerance, acceptance of things as they are, and forgiveness -- for loved ones and above all for ones self.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a film about three oddly-matched people on a journey. They are
strangers to each other, and they are quite strange. The film derives a
lot of its early edge from the concern we have for the young girl who
is in the company of two potentially dangerous and unstable men. Yellow
Handkerchief opens in a cold prison where William Hurt's character says
farewell to his fellow inmates. He is tough, hardened, and taciturn, a
man well past middle age. As with any convict, you want to know what
his crime was.
He takes a bus to a small Louisiana town. There, you get a visual suggestion that his crimes may have been sexual, as the camera shows a gathering of young people outside a restaurant. He drinks his first beer at this diner as we eavesdrop on the teens' conversations. We wonder if he is there to find prey or these young people are there by happenstance.
Hurt's flashbacks are many and frequent, and they begin in this dining room as he contemplates his first taste of beer in the first afternoon of his freedom.
A pretty 15-year-old girl, named Martine, is receiving much attention from two boys her age. Martine is played by 18-year-old Kirsten Stewart, who, in her short life, has appeared in a dozen films and collected half a dozen acting awards. We overhear Martine talking with the more handsome boy. She had been with him the night before, and we hear bits of conversation which sound like the boy may have taken advantage of her. Martine is on her cellphone with her father with whom we learn she has a stormy relationship. He is a thousand miles away on business, and she lies to him about where she is.
A goofy-looking boy, named Gordy, seems to be in constant motion. Gordy is smitten by Martine's charms, and he appears to have no chance with her. He says odd things and speaks inappropriately. He is in and out of the dining room as Hurt sips his beer enjoying freedom. The goofy kid wants to buy throw-away cameras with expired dates. He claims he is native American, but he looks Anglo. He is a bit weird. Hurt would later explain Gordy's behavior to Martine: "He is young for his age." Gordy is played by Eddy Redmayne, who looks much younger than his 26 years. A fine British actor who appeared in "The Other Bolyn Girl," "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," and "The Good Shepherd," plays a misfit with serious emotional problems in this movie.
The goofy-boy, the pretty girl and the ex-con leave this small Louisiana town in Gordy's old convertible. Their destination is uncertain except that they head south. It was bad judgment in the extreme for Martine to go away with the two men. A romantic girl, she is strangely attracted to the ex-con who is three or four times her age. The journey proceeds in serendipitous and unpredictable ways.
Along the way, layers of our first impressions peel away as these three reveal much about themselves.
Critics have said that American films are about objects like cars, guns, houses, airplanes and ships, while European films are about people and relationships. In this poverty-saturated section of Louisiana, the only thing to see is the human interaction. Tension pulls us into this film because what we know about these characters makes us apprehensive. We are further drawn in by curiosity; we want to find out who these strangers are and why they are together at all. An odd coupling, not one is much like the other. As the drama unfolds, we learn more about each one and find reasons to like and admire them.
This is the kind of film that actors crave; they can strut their stuff and show their chops. William Hurt,one of America's finest actors, does not disappoint. The Oscar-winner's fellow travelers are excellent. Maria Bello has a supporting role which comes through Hurt's flashbacks. She plays another quirky, hard woman with a soft core.
This film is one of those fine dramas which was a risk for the producers. It was too good not to make, but it is a film that could tank at the box office because it does not feature car chases and gratuitous explosions. This is drama for intelligent people which probably deserves Oscar nominations but it could pass under the radar of film audiences and critics. Each year Hollywood sends us some rare gems that we must look to find. Great films go unnoticed and are unfairly ignored. A short list would include "Antwone Fisher," "My First Mister," "Life As A House," "What We Lost in the Fire" and "Finding Forester" - all deserving Oscar consideration in several categories, but lost in the shuffle at the end of the season. This might end up on the list of great films you never saw if you don't go see it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm always a little apprehensive about ex-con redemption films. They
are generally predictable, and the emotional puppeteering is all too
easy and familiar. And I must acknowledge that in The Yellow
Handkerchief, there is more than a little of all that. But I don't
think that's at the core of the movie. Rather, this is a story about
three individuals, all lost and lonely, led by fate into a beat-up
convertible, and finding themselves unexpectedly on a little road trip
in post-Katrina rural Louisiana.
Award-winning German producer Arthur Cohn put together this project, and Indian director Udayan Prasad made some great casting calls. William Hurt is at the center as Brett, a just-released ex-con battling his demons (which are gradually revealed throughout the movie) and tenuously reentering the outside world. It's a role that comes naturally to Hurt, more like his classics The Big Chill, The Doctor and The Accidental Tourist than his arresting departure in The History of Violence. The inescapably sexy Maria Bello shows up mostly in flashbacks, as the love of his pre-prison life. Eddy Redmayne (Gordy) and Kristen Stewart (Matine) steal the show as the youngsters who meet in a store, and find themselves moments later asking Brett to make them an unlikely threesome.
Prasad does a great job of sharing with the audience the unadorned emotions at play as these three feel each other out, and gradually get comfortable together. There is natural tension, as Brett is older, obviously hardened, and something of mystery, and even more so when they find out he is an ex-con. But also anger, fear and disgust, before the softening. The strengths and weaknesses of each character are slowly exposed as their journey leads them in search of acceptance, hope and love. And talented cinematographer Chris Berges brings an eerie sadness to the Louisiana bayou country, not nearly recovered from the ravages of Katrina.
The Yellow Handkerchief may move too slowly for broad public acceptance. But the story never lagged, holding the audience throughout, and rewarding them at the end. One might accuse the ending of being a little hackneyed (and one would be right) but that hardly dulls the shine of a movie that leaves you feeling positive and optimistic.
Sundance Moment: Prasad, Cohn, Hurt, Bello, Redmayne and Stewart were all at the premiere. Best line was from Cohn, who said some people told him this was a "little movie." "There are no little movies or big movies," he repeated twice. Sundance philosophy in a nutshell.
There are movies, such as this and many others, that sometimes don't appeal to people do to the slowness of it all. Nonetheless, I was surprised to see the low rating that it received. The Yellow Handkerchief tells the touching story of three broken individuals, each with their own troubled past and lingering issues; who share one thing in common: the need to escape. The entire plot is centred around a long car journey, in which Martine (Kristen Stewart) and Gordy (Eddie Redmayne)slowly unravvel the mystery of Brett Hanson (Willian Hurt) an unhappy man, recently released from his sentence in prison. The movie is an Indie movie, and it does appear to be rather slow. The script isn't as chatty or invasive as the blockbuster movies we're used to, and there is a lot of scenery. But regardless, the theme of the movie is easy for people to relate to. You don't have to be a convict, or an abandoned child to understand it- the entire story, is about making mistakes. And eventually, the message becomes clearer: that the people who forgive you, and offer you a second chance, are those who love you the most. There are so many different ways to see this movie, that I will point out that that's only my interpretation. I highly recommend this movie, but only if you're in the mood for a more symbolic movie rather than fast paced; action packed thrillers..
If you are planning on seeing this, DO! It is a bit slow but you will come to love the characters and their flaws. It is not average road-trip to self discovery it is more. The lead characters have a tense and fearful journey ahead. As they open themselves up to each other we see the story take a journey that reminds me of To Kill A Mockingbird as we see the film from two innocent teenagers points of view. The writing is sarcastic and not at all Hollywood flashy it is down to earth and heart warming. A truly uplifting story to all who to let your teenager nature over-run them for 2 hours. You just might believe there is a happy ending in life for everyone. You should watch this movie, it is not one to miss!!
THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF CATCH IT ( B ) The best thing I loved about this movie was the Odd Characterization; William Hurt as Ex-Convict, Kristen Stewart as 15yrs old Confused Teen, Eddie Redmayne as the weird psycho nerdy dirty teen and Maria Bello as any other woman who gets tired of her life. A good attempt by the director and he made most out of the script. It keeps you intriguing and wondering what happened between Maria and William plus a weird relationship between Kristen and Eddie keeps you stuck with the story. Though I have felt at times it gets little slow but then again it paces up. Kristen Stewart looks damn gorgeous and acted well. Eddie Redmayne as a psychotic weird teen did a good job, another Britain import to look out for. William Hurt and Maria Bello are seasoned actors so obviously they were great. Overall a good movie about redemption & love.
What starts out as what appears as just another road movie turns out to be three tales of inter generational angst. Brett Hanson is an ex convict that is on a mission to find his lost love. Martine is a 15 year old girl who is just discovering life,and Gordo is a 16 year old boy,who is kind of geeky,gawky & awkward around girls,but wants a girl friend in the worst way. When their lives intersect at a rest stop,the three hit the road,looking for their own adventures. Along the way, truths are revealed,tears are shed & (potential)friend ships are forged. William Hurt ('Kiss Of The Spider Woman','The Big Chill',and most recently,'End Game')is Brett,a man who tries to get by with few words as necessary,who carries a dark secret & has a mission in life. Maria Bello is his ex wife,May. Kristin Stewart (previously seen in 'Twilight',and 'New Moon',and soon to be seen as Joan Jett in 'The Runaways')is Martine,a girl who is looking for something better in life than what she's being offered,presently. Eddie Redmayne is Gordo, who first comes off as something of a jerk at first,but matures a little, (for his own good). India's own Udayan Prasad directs from a screenplay written by Erin Dignam,from a story by Pete Hamill. This is a slow moving film that has to work it's way into your system,but is worth the test of patients in the end. Rated PG-13 by the MPAA,this film contains brief sexual content,some rough language & brief outbursts of violence (but nothing bloody or gory)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A tale of two love stories--one which needs to be rekindled--while the
other is sorely in need of some love potion to ignite the sparks. This
is also a story about three drifters who are alienated from their own
social circles. They say you can learn a lot about someone from the
first impressions that they make. This was especially evident for the
trio of lead characters. For Brett, his first scene showed him being
released from Angola State Prison, with sad droopy eyes and lonely,
where none of his family or friends are there to greet him, unlike the
other prisoners who have loved ones running into their arms upon their
release from prison. For Gordy, in his first scene, he would get no
respect from any of the patrons of the convenience store which he was
hanging out at. And finally, for 15-year-old Martine, we see her being
dumped by her boyfriend, a relationship which could be better described
as a one-night stand, as he explained to her that his drunkenness
obscured his better judgment.
So thus begins their journey to the Big Easy in Gordy's decades old blue Ford LTD convertible. While this turned out to be a road movie, thankfully it was much more than that. While the landscape depicted by cinematographer, Chris Menges was impressive and atmospheric, this roadie was without question, character driven.
While William Hurt is usually over-the-top in most of his previous roles, he was as low-key as you can get in this indie. To put it succinctly, Hurt gloriously portrayed hurt in The Yellow Handkerchief. His soft spoken nature spoke more loudly than most of his previous high-strung roles.
Those who have followed the work of Kristen Stewart's non-Twilight roles, will perhaps agree that she is a brutally honest actress with angst oozing out of her pores, as well as having intensity to spare. Kristen has also proved that she belongs on screen with middle-aged Hollywood heavyweights such as Robert De Niro, James Gandlofini, and in this case, William Hurt. Kristen's definitely a cutie and her Southern drawl made her that much more adorable.
Yes, Eddie Redmayne displayed virtually every annoying trait imaginable, yet that is exactly what the script dictated. And of course, Maria Bello was her usual beautiful and sensuous self.
What I found especially intriguing about this film is that I wasn't really sure if Brett was running away from something, running towards something, running in circles, or simply running in place like he was doing for the past 6 years for obvious reasons. It wasn't until Brett's flashbacks revealed the details concerning his manslaughter charges--proving that this was just an accident involving a good Samaritan who interceded while Brett and May argued outside a bar. It turned out, in the heat of passion, Brett shoved this man as he tried to get between he and his wife. As this man falls backward, he falls and hits his head on a fire hydrant causing him to die on the spot. While Martine and Gordy joked about Brett being an axe murderer, they were both certain he was innocent. In fact, even after Brett revealed this incident, they continued to look up to Brett as a father figure. Although Brett was the one who demanded the divorce, we would also learn of his undying love for May as the journey reached full-circle in the movie as well as in my mind. Tears began to well up in my eyes as Brett revealed to Martine and Gordy exactly what he wrote on the postcard which he sent to May. He spilled out his guts by writing that if May wants him back she would put up the yellow sail on her sailboat, reminiscent of the song, "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree." While at first he was hesitant to go to May's house, Martine convinces him to go, telling him it's not about being selfish but rather about being weak. Gordy interjected that it would be a waste of gasoline if they went all this way only to turn back now, especially if you were to consider he was driving a gas guzzler, coupled with the rising petroleum prices during post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.
When the trio finally gets to the location of Brett's former place of residence, they discover a new occupant now resides there. I could feel Brett's heart break as they drove off. But then, like a bolt out of the blue, Martine spots one-hundred or so small yellow flags and handkerchiefs hanging on some clotheslines which were draped over a sailboat. Martine then tells Gordy to back up and drive towards that sailboat. Sure enough that's May's sailboat as she walks towards Brett. They are happy to see each other and embrace. Martine and Gordy are touched by this incident and cuddle up as well. Despite Gordy's lack of confidence and uneasiness around people--especially beautiful young women who like to do ballerina pirouettes--Martine is drawn to his compassion towards animals. In one scene, while driving his car, Gordy hits a deer and after doing so jumps out of the car to offer assistance. In another scene he describes to Martine a story where he freed a $10 million purebred racehorse from a stable. Yes, Gordy is scrawny, naive and messed up. Yet the more Martine gets to know Gordy, the more deeply she falls in love with him. I can't say enough about this heartfelt story of love, loss and second chances. The fleshed out performances by the lead actors brought this story to life.
Road trips in American film have often been flamboyant metaphorsEasy
Rider and Thelma and Louise come quickly to mind. The Yellow
Handkerchief will not be remembered so readily given its low-key,
Southern slow delivery. Yet it has a subtle power to inform the
Louisiana bayou landscape with meaning as three strangers embark by
auto for destinations barely known.
Brett Hanson (William Hurt) has just been released from 6 years in prison for manslaughter. Ignorant of this fact is Martine (Kristen Stewart), a fifteen year-old runaway, who invites Brett to ride with her and Gordy (Eddie Redmayne), who is a stranger and a strange young man having the advantage of a convertible and enough cash for a trip that might end up in New Orleans.
Like a European film, Handkerchief takes it time to reveal character, meet a conflict and climax, and settle down to its title, which is unsubtly tied to the handkerchief and a pop tune about an ex-convict "comin' home." Hurt, one of America's finest actors, brings gravity and melancholy to a role that requires sorrow and redemption to ride along with hope. I hope he receives a well-deserved Oscar nod and the grand prizethink of Jeff Bridges' win for Crazy Heart, a more histrionic part than Hurt's understated torture.
While I'm still trying to warm up to Kristen Stewart as anything but a vampire lover of little acting range beyond a hesitating delivery, Maria Bello as May, Brett's love interest, is plain persuasive as the one who tries to understand and work with the eccentricities of Brett.
Of course, Katrina as family wrecker is quietly in the background, and because this is a story of the search for family, or "belonging to something," the hurricane informs every grasp for lost love as the vanished twin towers might do. If you want slow exposition that offers character development of the first order, then ride along with these three misfits to find a bit of yourself in the journey.
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