“The Yellow Handkerchief”, loosely based on a short story by writer Pete Hamill, is the story of three lost souls who happen upon each other one average Louisiana day. Starring William Hurt, Maria Bello, Kristen Stewart and Eddie RedMayne, the film starts out with, quite fittingly, yellow-washed credits.
The story centers around Brett Hanson (Hurt), a recent ex-convict, making his way back home. He meets Martine (Stewart) and Gordy (Redmayne) on a trip across the river. Through a stroke of bad (or good) luck, the three strangers are stranded together and slowly learn about each other’s histories and how they ended up in the present day.
William Hurt plays Hanson with gusto. He’s lost, hurt, hopeless and hopeful all at the same time. He plays both loner on a journey and father figure to two lonely teens. Despite his ex-convict status, one gets the impression Hanson is not a bad person. Throughout the film, as you learn his past, you understand where his emotions and state of mind come from.
Stewart’s character, Martine, is also a lonely person. No caring family and no obvious friends, she takes the trip across the river in hopes of a quick joy ride allowing her to escape her desperate reality. Martine and her existence is believable, however Stewart still has some of her stereotyped panting and hair pulling which can sometimes make it hard to forget that you are watching Kristen Stewart. Forgetting these mannerisms, the part, including the southern accent, are well played.
Gordy, played by Eddie RedMayne, is an extremely awkward character to watch. I can’t quite tell if the character is supposed to be that awkward of an individual or if RedMayne over-acted. Though he and Stewart’s character are supposed to have chemistry on-screen, it’s only when she dislikes him that their chemistry is believable.
Bello is seen through flash-backs and has little effect on the likeability of the film. She effectively plays a beautiful object of caring and desire, but she isn’t given enough character depth and screen time to make an impact.
Unfortunately, I did not have much time to research this film before viewing. Upon leaving the theater, my impression was and still is that the acting by Hurt and Stewart was solid (and Redmayne if he was supposed to be that awkward), but there wasn’t enough depth to the overall story line. I thought to myself (and out-loud), “this film felt like a short story more than a film”. I am, therefore, not surprised to learn it’s loosely based on a short story.
With a deeper story line, this film could have invested the audience more. As-is, there just isn’t enough of a story to make a successful full-length feature film.
5 sandwiches out of 10
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