‘Adopt a Highway’ Review: An Honest, Open-Road Ballad About Life’s Unpredictability [SXSW]

/Film | 3/15/2019 | Matt Donato
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Actor Logan Marshall-Green’s directorial debut Adopt A Highway feels tailor-made for Austin’s South by Southwest Film Festival. It has nothing to do with horror, mind you, despite Blumhouse’s production banner. What could double as an acoustic country ballad whispers a nomad folk tale about one simple task: getting by. Indie bloodlines run through Marshall-Green’s jailhouse poetry without overly romanticized narratives, more appropriately about passing moments than revelations. It’s about muttered dialogue, directionless trajectories, and a most relatable assessment of life not going as expected.

In other words, humanity as we know it.

Ethan - Hawke - Inmate - Russell - Millings

We encounter Ethan Hawke as inmate Russell Millings on the day of his release after twenty-plus years locked away. His offense? Strike number three after getting busted with an ounce of marijuana. Now free, he works hard to acclimate back into society as a dishwasher at Tony’s Hamburgers who can only afford modest motel accommodations. He has zero internet knowledge (to Jorge Diaz’s humorous disbelief), deceased parents, and only a small pack of belongings to his name – until he finds baby “Ella” screeching in the dumpster behind work. What’s a loner ex-con to do? Start an unexpected journey down one of life’s many detours.

Adopt A Highway charts unique but refreshing paths by tracing character outlines with earnest realism, speaking volumes while mumbling words. As someone who blasts Anna And The Apocalypse lyrics like “…no such thing as a Hollywood ending,” Marshall-Green’s shaping of Russell hits so touchingly close to home. In mainstream films, Russell would’ve nurtured baby Ella until a climactic ruling at the film’s end; in Adopt A Highway, Ella’s stay represents just one pitstop that redirects Russell’s inner GPS. We’re often convinced to look for immense, epiphanic meaning in any event, but that’s not always the case (nor cause for derailment).

Russell

Like Russell, we are defined by overall...
(Excerpt) Read more at: /Film
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