Adopt a Highway Review:
“Adopt a Highway” doesn’t struggle to say something profound, nor does it generate lots of drama. Instead, like a spare short story, this little indie nurtures a few simple emotions, then hopes its audience will stick around to share in them. I’m glad I did.
In the opening scene of Adopt a Highway, Russ Millings (Ethan Hawke) is leaving prison after 21 years. He was sentenced as a young man for possessing an ounce of marijuana, his third offense under California’s three strikes law. Now in his 40s, he’s disheveled and nearly silent, and is soon perplexed by the outside world.
Russ takes a job at a fast-food restaurant and after work one night, he finds a baby who has been abandoned in a dumpster. He takes the child home, leading to some gently comedic moments — he can barely take care of himself, let alone a crying infant.
A few plot turns follow, and it’s no spoiler to say that Logan Marshall-Green, the writer and director, is interested in exploring melancholy and hopefulness rather than anger and exasperation. He and Hawke feel deeply for Russ, and their sincerity shows.
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Hawke, who appears in every scene (and almost every shot), says so little that when he does utter a word, it holds your attention. At first, Russ seems easy to dismiss. Later, he’s hard to look away from.
“Adopt a Highway” is the kind of film you recommend only to certain friends, ones who you trust to appreciate its occasional oddness. After the end, you’ll probably remain a bit mystified and find yourself reflecting on its quiet scenes. For me, that was just fine. I liked thinking about this movie some more.
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