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The Yellow Handkerchief

January 14, 2010

Set in post-Katrina Louisiana, The Yellow Handkerchief is built around a love story, its brief, hopeful rise and dreadful collapse revealed in pungent flashbacks. These are the unbidden memories of William Hurt’s Brett, who, fresh out of prison and at seeming loose ends, hitches a ride south with a pair of unhappy teens, the self-pitying motormouth Gordy (English actor Eddie Redmayne), whose sole charm is his car, and Martine (Kristen Stewart), dumped by the boy she likes and her truck driver dad, who has gone on vacation with his girlfriend and left his 15-year-old daughter to fend for herself. There’s an air of bruised fragility about this trio and also about May (Maria Bello), the gun-shy woman who threw Brett off her houseboat and out of her life. There’s also a whiff of sentimental cliché, but time and again it’s dispelled by Chris Menges’ acutely intelligent cinematography and the quality of the performances. Stewart does the kind of layered work that has made her one of the best young actors around. Martine is necessarily self-sufficient, but her anger and sadness are palpable, and she looks weary—rejection can do that to a girl. You’re relieved when she perks up and starts nudging Redmayne’s whiny Southern boy to do the same. via kstewartfans

C.

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