The Yellow Handkerchief
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Now that the days are getting longer and the weather’s getting warmer, it’s the perfect time to head out on a weekend road trip. You could even form an unlikely friendship or two—like those in the Southern road trip drama, The Yellow Handkerchief.

When Brett Hanson (William Hurt) gets out of prison, no one’s waiting to pick him up. No one’s there to give him a hug and take him home. Instead, he’s on his own, traveling with the ghosts of his former life.

On his way back down to New Orleans, Brett meets two teenagers who are both on a journey of their own. Gordy (Eddie Redmayne) is an awkward kid who’s following the Mississippi River, searching for a new adventure—and maybe his dad, too. Martine (Kristen Stewart) is a 15-year-old who’s struggling through her teen years without much help from her absentee father.

Together, the three make their way south through Louisiana in Gordy’s old convertible. Along their long journey through the Louisiana bayou, Brett quietly reflects on happier times—and on May (Maria Bello), the woman he left behind.

All three characters are searching for love in some form or another—but while Brett’s story comes out gradually, revealed through flashbacks of his life with May, the other characters seem to float around somewhere in the background. They’re both hurting and damaged, but the film barely scratches the surface when it comes to developing them.

Still, both young actors do surprisingly well, considering the little they’ve been given to work with. Redmayne is sweet and socially awkward as Gordy. His story is told in just a few snippets throughout the film, but the more time he spends on screen, the more you’ll like him.

Martine’s story, meanwhile, is developed even less than Gordy’s, yet you’ll understand that she’s desperate for attention—and desperate to be loved and cared for. For once, Stewart lightens up on her usual dark, moody teen act, showing more vulnerability and versatility. And while Martine is still dark and moody at times, Stewart gives the role more depth and humanity than we’ve seen from her in the past.

Hurt, then, gets the best opportunity to shine—because his character gets the most attention. Although Brett doesn’t say a whole lot, he doesn’t really need to. His story is built on his actions, his memories, his expressions, and he tells the story beautifully—a quietly moving performance from a gifted actor.

The Yellow Handkerchief isn’t the typical action-packed comic road trip movie. Instead, it’s charming and unhurried, moving at a languid Southern pace. The story, too, is simple—a bit too simple and too neat, in fact. But if you’re in the mood for an easy-going drama on a lazy summer Sunday afternoon, the beautiful bayou backdrop and the noteworthy performances make The Yellow Handkerchief a worthwhile journey.

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