Who's In It: William Hurt, Maria Bello, Kristen Stewart, Eddie Redmayne
The Basics: William Hurt is an ex-con fresh out of the joint, Kristen Stewart is a 15-year-old wanting to shake off the dust of her small town and Eddie Redmayne is a socially inept and sexually obnoxious teen drifter. Redmayne's got the stylish retro convertible so the three of them pile in uneasily and take off toward post-Katrina New Orleans, bonding, brooding, bickering and sharing meaningful blah-blah along the way. Maria Bello is the woman, seen only in flashback, that Hurt left behind, the one he's hoping has tied a yellow ribbon around whatever hasn't been submerged underwater.
What's The Deal: The Misfit Strangers in a Car in America Searching for Themselves genre is like a dare. The filmmakers are daring you to sit through a story you know already, because every freaking Sundance Film Festival indie is about Misfit Strangers in a Car in America Searching for Themselves. The actors are daring you not to fill in the empty spaces between the minimalist dialogue with your own skewering remarks. The guy plucking the score on an acoustic guitar is daring Ry Cooder not to sue him. You might take the dare. You might call the movie's bluff. A lot can go wrong. This time around it goes more or less right.
Unhateable Thanks To: The actors. The script isn't precious or quirky, there's no attempt to sell you a zany oddball road movie, but it's also the kind of skimpy narrative that you'd be forgiven for thinking has "cut to Martine with a soulful, downcast glance on her face" actually written on the page. The people responsible for fleshing this out on screen do it with a minimum of muted showboating and flashy restraint. They hit all the notes and wind up moving you because they're pros and because they know how to reshape and freshen up what could have been stale sentimental slop out of a Tony Orlando and Dawn song.
Pedigree, Not Including That Tony Orlando And Dawn Song: Sort of based on the 1977 Japanese film The Yellow Handkerchief and the Pete Hamill short story "Going Home," which in turn is based on a folk tale about tying a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree, etc. And now you also know the origin story of that yellow magnetic ribbon you see on cars all over the place.
Twilight Fan Need-To-See Index, On A Scale Of 1 To 10: A solid 6. Obviously it has nothing to do with Stewart's starmaking franchise, but at least in this movie she seems capable of making her own decisions, even if they're clearly the wrong kind (aka hopping in a car with two strange guys and taking a road trip).