Titles are really important – especially for people who make snap decisions like me. When I’m cruising for a new book to read or through Netflix for a movie, I’ll often skip over selections that have what I consider lame titles. Or juvenile titles. Or just crazy makes-no-sense titles. (as opposed to crazy-but-it-sounds-intriguing titles)
Last week I accidentally received the indie film The Yellow Handkerchief via my Netflix queue. I say accidentally because, although it was next in line, I usually review my queue when I send back a DVD to make sure the next one is a movie I’m in the mood to see. Anyway, I vaguely remember putting The Yellow Handkerchief in the queue but I don’t remember why. See, this is the kind of title I would normally pass on because it sounds like a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie – not that there’s anything wrong with that. I grew up watching HHoF and loved them. Of course, I only had a choice of two TV stations way back then in the olden days so a HHoF movie was a real treat. Since I’m in the habit of adding movies to my Netflix when I read about an interesting one I’m sure I read about it on PBS online or on Women’s Voices for Change or the week-end edition of The Wall Street Journal (which surprisingly has great “Review” and “Off Duty” sections in it’s Saturday edition). Regardless, even though I was a bit pissed when I received the DVD, my attitude changed 360 degrees when I started watching it. I could tell in the first 15 minutes from the cinematography, music and just the feel of the movie that it was special.
The movie stars William Hurt, whose movies Body Heat and Kiss of the Spider Woman are in my top movies list, Kristen Stewart who’s acted in The Runaways, Welcome to the Rileys (in my top list) and those vampire movies (not on my list), Maria Bello who I don’t recall ever seeing in a movie although I liked her on ER and I’m really digging her new show Prime Suspect, and Eddie Redmayne who was fun to watch on Pillars of the Earth. (Ah, I see he’s in a 2008 Masterpiece Classic adaptation of Tess of the D’Urbervilles,one of my fave books. I’ll have to check it out.)
So, the main cast is wonderful, all actors I enjoy, and the supporting cast (which is minimal) adds well acted needed nuance to the story. The story is about a man (Hurt) who has just been released from prison and is vacillating between journeying back to find his wife (who he hasn’t seen in 6 years) or just journeying into the sunset. Along the way he meets up with two lost teenagers (lost as in trying to figure out their place in the world, not literally lost) and they embark on a road trip together in an awesome ’70′s era turquoise LTD convertible through the bayou country of Louisiana. Yes, this is filmed right here with scenes from around New Roads, Pierre Part, New Orleans and what I’m guessing is Leeville, or somewhere down there where land is slowly disappearing into the Gulf.
Brett (Hurt) is a man of few words but with eyes that tell you everything you need to know. Over the course of the trip he tells the story of how he came to be imprisoned to the kids. Stewart, who plays Martine, is a phenominal young actress, as we saw in Riley’s, and she subtlety plays the part of a troubled young woman looking for love and acceptance. Redmayne is perfectly cast as the restless, eccentric Gordie, the kid nobody liked in high school because he marched to his own drummer. His piercing blue eyes and unusual looks lend just the right credibility to his part and I found myself mesmerized by him (as I was with him in Pillars). Maria Bello’s acting matched Hurt’s for nuance, much was intimated from her expressive face, but she displayed her talent for powerful speaking in this movie as she has in her work on TV.
The scenery in this movie veered from beautiful vistas of bayou country with the moss-draped Oaks and fields of sugar cane to the long expanse of hi way lined with chemical plants billowing black smoke and, finally, to the almost bucolic shots of that little piece of land along the gulf lined with fishing boats.
I liked this movie so much I watched it twice in two days, something I never do. It had all the elements I wish for in a film, a engaging and thoughtful storyline, lush and visually interesting cinematography, music that enhanced rather than overwhelmed the film and a cast of accomplished actors. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a Hallmark Hall of Famer or a “chick flick” – it’s far more sophisticated. I give this a 5 out of 5 stars. Watch it.
Here’s a little sneak peak for ya – one of my favorite scenes.