Pin It

An Opaque Flutter 

The Yellow Handkerchief tells an old story, and this version reveals even less than usual.

click to enlarge art14980.jpg

Nobody seems to know where this story comes from. One thing’s for sure, we’ve seen and heard it before. Legendary columnist Pete Hamill put the hopeful tale of a newly released convict traveling on a bus with a couple of college kids in the New York Post in 1971. Tony Orlando and Dawn sang a version of it in their 1973 mega-hit “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ’Round the Old Oak Tree.” Foreign film aficionados may recall a 1977 Japanese comedy-drama called The Yellow Handkerchief.

This newest edition sticks closest to the Japanese film but is fully Americanized, set in Louisiana and telling its warm and gushy story (with allusions to a dark side) in a low-budget manner. The film presents its characters, throws them together, then starts to reveal little pieces of them.

That’s both the good and bad news about this slight movie. It hints that its three disparate protagonists are going to form some sort of whole, while offering only a murky picture.

Brett (William Hurt) has just been released from prison after a six-year stint for manslaughter. Looking lost and lonely, he visits a nearby town for a cup of joe, and somehow meets up with unhappy local gal Martine (Kristen Stewart) and carefree traveler Gordy (Eddie Redmayne).

Brett’s plan: Go south. Martine’s plan: Escape this town. Gordy’s plan: Well, Gordy doesn’t have one. So it’s into Gordy’s car they all hop, heading for New Orleans.

Here’s what we learn about these folks. Sad Brett is haunted by his past. Scraps of it are revealed in flashbacks that start as quick snaps and eventually grow into long sequences, featuring a woman named May (Maria Bello), about whom all we get to know is that she’s unpredictable and loaded with low self-esteem.

But that’s a hell of a lot more than we find out about Brett’s new pals. Scowling Martine has studied ballet (check out her poses and stretches) and might be running away from a boyfriend. Gordy, all eagerness and deer-in-the-headlights eyes, appears to be out for a very long ride, with no thought of looking forward or back.

There’s some trouble with a white-trash couple, a run-in with the cops, a flashback revelation of the manslaughter business and a romance. And there are some very handy coincidences that keep solving everyone’s problems. But that’s about it.

What’s lacking is what makes these people tick and a working balance between current and back stories. Of the film’s low-key performances, Hurt knows what he’s doing, but the two kids, like Hurt’s character, seem lost.


  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • Double Trouble
  • Double Trouble

    Keeping Up with the Joneses steals an idea and does little with it
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • From Book to Bore
  • From Book to Bore

    Inferno is a messy, nonsensical continuation of the Robert Langdon series
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • The Bad, the Worse and the Puppy
  • The Bad, the Worse and the Puppy

    In a Valley of Violence is a funny, thoughtful Western semi-send-up
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
RiffTrax Live: Carnival of Souls

RiffTrax Live: Carnival of Souls @ Regal Cinemas

Thu., Oct. 27 and Mon., Oct. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks


More by Ed Symkus

  • Ode to <i>Joy</i>-less
  • Ode to Joy-less

    This reviewer really, really doesn't like Jennifer Lawrence
    • Dec 23, 2015
  • Winning Reboot
  • Winning Reboot

    Somehow, Arnold's return to the Terminator franchise makes for solid sci-fi
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • Dog of a Story
  • Dog of a Story

    Max wastes a promising idea on forgettable characters
    • Jun 24, 2015
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • The Kids Aren't Alright

    Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children can't quite strike the balance between whimsy and darkness
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film


indigo girls


spokane symphony

Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?
  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep dive into the way movies portray half of humanity
    • May 12, 2016
  • Road Goes On Forever
  • Road Goes On Forever

    Widespread Panic's never-ending tour stops in Spokane for the first time since 1999
    • Mar 11, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation