Friday, January 4, 2008

Two-Lane Blacktop

There’s something to be said, really, for the general feel of driving down an open road, being able to just drive completely at your leisure without worrying about traffic like you would on virtually every road within a hundred or so miles of where I live (yay New Jersey!). It’s a feeling I’ve known all too rarely, and it’s a feeling that you’re going to have to be really ridiculously fond of if you’re going to enjoy this movie.

The plot is…well, nonexistent, really. There’s two cars involved in a good-natured cross-country race, and that’s it. The film is really about the act of driving itself, and watching the cars roaring down a long series of highway roads out west. Neither car really seems too eager to win the race, either, as they each continually stop to help the car lagging behind. I am referring to the cars as if they were the people themselves, because the people driving them seem to live as nothing more than maintainers of their vehicles. Nobody in the film even has enough character development to warrant a name, they’re just Driver, Mechanic, and Girl, all in the Chevy, and GTO, in his GTO. As I said, this isn’t a movie about plot or characters, it’s about driving and the road itself.

Quite frankly, I am not the kind of car nut or driving nut that’s going to be able to enjoy a movie like this at the length it is (103 minutes), but I will say that for what it is it’s done well. There’s quite a number of nice-looking shots to be had here (though really, you film vast landscapes long enough you’re going to find any number of nice-looking shots), and there’s nothing really offensively bad about it all. It certainly isn’t mired in pretentiousness like its dreadful spiritual predecessor Easy Rider is, and I’m grateful for that. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough in itself to justify the film, and the film itself doesn’t provide any better reasons.

Rating: * ½

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