Larry Rayder is an aspiring NASCAR driver, Deke Sommers is mechanic. As they feel they collectively are the best, the only thing that is holding them back is money to build the best vehicle... See full summary »
The Driver and The Mechanic are 2 car freaks driving a 1955 Chevy through the southwestern U.S., looking for other cars to race. They're totally dedicated to their car, and speak with each other only when necessary. At a gas station, the pair (along with a girl who's ingratiated herself into their world) meet G.T.O; a middle-aged man who fabricates stories and. It's decided to have a race to Washington, D.C., where the winner will get the loser's car.Written by
Rick Gregory <email@example.com>
Nostalgic of late 60s and early 70s American culture, this film is hard to come to grips with. At face value it's nothing more than a poorly plotted road trip across the U.S. Southwest, as two guys and a girl, in a 1950's hotrod, race a guy named G.T.O (Warren Oates) in his yellow muscle car.
The film's concept is a little like that of the early 1960's TV series "Route 66". But the approach here is totally different. Director Monte Hellman designed "Two-Lane Blacktop" as if it were a docudrama. Dialogue is minimal and not canned, camera work is unobtrusive with very long camera "takes", none of the actors wear makeup, non-actors play bit parts, there are minimal plot contrivances, and so far as I could determine there are no indoor movie sets. As such, the film reminds me of "Woodstock" (1970).
That's both good and bad. Lack of acting experience renders James Taylor and Dennis Wilson more natural than what could be expected with trained actors. It's bad because neither Dennis Wilson nor James Taylor could act, and their entertainment quotient is zilch. In performances, the film thus bears a striking resemblance to "Zabriskie Point" (1970).
For the above reasons, a lot of viewers will not like this film. The plot, such as it is, is super slow and the performances are drab. And there are no special effects to function as distractions. So ...
What you have in "Two-Lane Blacktop" is a 1970's art-house film. What it lacks in entertainment value the film makes up for with its heavy-duty philosophical and existential themes. An economy of language wherein nothing in the film is "explained", the tacit praise of the prosaic, and the almost stifling trust in the present moment, all speak to the human heart, as the voice of nihilistic romanticism. There is no freedom here, no escape, no change, nor redemption. The landscape horizon never gets closer. It's the myth of freedom and the embrace of alienation. No matter how far you travel, you never actually arrive. It's the journey that matters, on the devil's highway. But that's life.
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