This will be one of many reviews during this year’s SXSW Film Festival, to keep up with our latest coverage, click here.
Synopsis: After being released from prison following a twenty year sentence for a minor offense, an ex-con must learn to navigate the world while coming to terms with his own life which has moved on — all while caring for an abandoned baby he finds in a dumpster. (Divide/Conquer)
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Elaine Hendrix, and Diane Gaeta
Writer: Logan Marshall-Green
Director: Logan Marshall-Green
Running Time: 78mins
At its core, the plot synopsis for Adopt a Highway reads like it should be something haunting, overwhelming and way longer than it’s brisk 78 minutes of running time. However, esteemed genre movie actor Logan Marshall-Green takes this story and makes it a simple and sweet observational drama that works in most respects.
Because this was short movie and the cast wasn’t that big, most of the focus is on indie legend Ethan Hawke’s performance as an ex-con named Russell Millings who was just trying to get through life, no matter the hardships. His performance truly grounds this film, and makes the film work like it does. Although we don’t learn much about Millings as a character, he’s believable and likable enough so the audience can get behind him. In all fairness, he is Ethan Hawke at the end of the day – what can’t the man do! Also, the baby who accompanies him in the film is TOO adorable.
The one thing that significantly hinders the story at hand was Marshall-Green’s screenplay. With the film’s extremely brief running time, the story doesn’t feel rushed though never felt like there was ever a point being made. Marshall-Green’s craft is still commendable in terms of situational storytelling. However, as the movie goes on, you begin to question if there’s any moral or message at hand – but there really wasn’t one here.
Besides some slight missteps that are honestly forgivable for a debut screenplay, the immaculate directional talent of Marshall-Green and obvious acting talent of Ethan Hawke make Adopt a Highway worth your time – and it’s not a lot of it, anyways!