×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Redwood Highway’

Solid acting overcomes a lack of dynamic tension in this family-friendly film.

With:
Shirley Knight, James Le Gros, Zena Grey, Michelle Lombardo, Sam Daly, Barret O’Brien, Danforth Comins, Catherine E. Coulson, J.P. Phillips, Geoff Whitman, Douglas Rowe, Tom Skerritt.

A perfectly fine walkabout through the scenic roadways and nearby woods of southern Oregon, “Redwood Highway” delivers in high spirits and fine thesping what it lacks in dynamic tension and narrative consistency. Anchored by a warm, full-bodied turn by septuagenarian Shirley Knight as a spunky but troubled retirement-home resident, and backed by fine support from vets Tom Skerritt and James Le Gros, the film, which is rolling out in limited runs across the country, will stroll mostly to VOD and to femme- and family-themed cable networks.

We meet Marie (Knight) in motion, perambulating through the opening credits roll. She’s trying to avoid her son (Le Gros, “Justified,” “Scotland, Pa.”), who’s visiting the facility to which he’s engineered her relocation (though given her feistiness and his mellow vibe, it’s a bit unclear how he managed the feat). He’s intent on convincing her to attend the wedding of her granddaughter, Naomi (Zena Gray, “House”), which she opposes, haunted by a history she doesn’t want visited on the kid. Still, considering her misgivings seem to revolve around having been the young bride of a doomed soldier, and that Naomi’s intended is the drummer in a band, it’s tough to follow the throughline. But no matter: Marie’s shoes are made for walking, and Knight accomplishes this with verve and empathy.

Deciding to attend the wedding on her own terms, she sneaks out the front door of the retirement home, determined to face her demons while retracing her steps 80 miles to the same windswept beach where her past and Naomi’s future seem destined to collide, depending on your tolerance for extended symbolism. At various stages in her days-long journey, Marie discovers she needs the help of strangers, including a kindly sheriff (Barret O’Brien), a kindly crafts shop owner (Skerritt) and a kindly barmaid (Michelle Lombardo). Luckily, most of those she meets are fairly well versed in medicine.

The plot is predictable and ill formed, even as traveling with Marie is a delight. And the second unit certainly makes the most of her journey, highlighting the autumnal glory of the titular Oregon landscape and the rugged beauty of the Pacific Coast.

Knight manages to run the gamut of Marie’s emotions, often with the slightest of changes in expression: the momentary hurt of being old and invisible to the young; the frustration at needing the help of others; the joy of her surroundings; the realization of her greatest mistake and of her chance for deliverance. Skerritt is a calming influence in a role he can play practically in his sleep (and the sculptures in his crafts shop, credited to Kevin Christman, are pretty cool). Lombardo (“Californication”), in a less vampy part, is luminous just the same. As the lone unsavory character Marie meets, Sam Daly is quickly dispatched to allow for more walking.

In his second feature (after 2009’s “Calvin Marshall”), director Gary Lundgren, who co-wrote the script (with James Twyman) and served as the film’s editor, has the most success when allowing Knight to carry the show. Tech credits are strongest when the Red camera is shooting outdoors in plenty of light; some faster pans in lower light seem a bit vertiginous. The occasional use of slo-mo is ill advised, since the pace of the movie is none too fast to begin with. John Morgan Askew’s music is bouncy without tilting over into treacly, and aptly used.

Film Review: 'Redwood Highway'

Reviewed online, Los Angeles, April 14, 2014. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 90 MIN.

Production: A Monterey Media Release of an Ageless Cinema presentation of a James Twyman production in association with Elsewhere Films and Joma Films. Produced by Twyman, Gary Kout. Executive producers, Guy Mommaerts, Chiyo Mommaerts, Karen Kozleski. Co-producer, Anne Lundgren.

Crew: Directed, edited by Gary Lundgren. Screenplay, Lundgren, James Twyman. Camera (color, HD), Patrick Neary; music, John Morgan Askew; production designer, Dave Marshall; costume designer, Claudia Everett; sound, Kent Romney; re-recording mixers, Jim Fitzpatrick, David Raines; associate producer, Shelly Heyward; casting, Christine Sheaks

With: Shirley Knight, James Le Gros, Zena Grey, Michelle Lombardo, Sam Daly, Barret O’Brien, Danforth Comins, Catherine E. Coulson, J.P. Phillips, Geoff Whitman, Douglas Rowe, Tom Skerritt.

More Film

  • Someone Great

    Film Review: ‘Someone Great’

    There simply aren’t enough modern romantic comedies that cherish the merits of female friendship in the aftermath of a romantic breakup. There are even fewer that feel like a personal, lived-in experience. Female-driven raunchcoms (like “Girls Trip”) have explored this territory to a certain extent, though many stop short of delivering genuine poignancy (like “Rough [...]

  • Actresses take part in the #metoo

    Cannes Grows More Inclusive With Stronger Lineup of Female Filmmakers

    In 1946, the inaugural year of the Cannes Film Festival, Barbara Virginia’s surrealist film, “Tres dias sem Deus” debuted in competition. Over the subsequent seven decades, as it has grown in stature to become one of the world’s premier film gatherings, Cannes hasn’t matched that early promise in highlighting female artists. Finally, the powers that [...]

  • Rocketman

    Cannes: 2019 Lineup Includes 'Rocketman' and Films by 13 Rising Women

    The 72nd Cannes Film Festival announced its lineup, boosting the number of female filmmakers in official selection to 13, four of whom will compete for the Palme d’Or. The number of Americans is also up, including Terrence Malick (with his wartime, German-language drama “A Hidden Life”), Ira Sachs (who unveils Portugal-set Isabelle Huppert starrer “Frankie”), [...]

  • Cannes Unveils 2019 Official Selection (Watch

    Watch Cannes Lineup Announcement (Updating Live)

    The 72nd Cannes Film Festival is announcing the films chosen for “official selection” — including those competing for the event’s coveted Palme d’Or prize — in a press conference Thursday starting at 11 a.m. in Paris. The livestream of the press conference is available here. (Please note that the broadcast seldom starts on time.) Last [...]

  • Godzilla

    'Godzilla' Owner Toho Poised for Expansion in Hollywood

    Toho, the largest movie group in Japan, is expanding a subsidiary in the U.S. with a view to working more with Hollywood. The company said that its existing Toho International Inc. subsidiary has been injected with $14 million (JPY15.4 billion), through a share issue subscribed to by the parent company. The subsidiary has existed since [...]

  • View Conference Opens Registration for 2019

    2019 View Conference Opens Registration, Calls for Short Film Competition Entries

    Registration is now open for the 2019 edition of the View Conference in Turin, Italy. No speakers have been announced yet, but past conferences have featured some of the world’s top creative talents in visual effects, animation, gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. Last year’s edition featured composer Hans Zimmer, Paramount Animation topper [...]

  • Former professional boxer Bradley Welsh in

    Bradley Welsh, 'T2 Trainspotting' Actor, Shot Dead in Edinburgh

    Bradley Welsh, an actor in “T2 Trainspotting” and a former boxer, died after being shot in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Wednesday. He was 42. The Edinburgh Police Division reported an incident on Chester Street in Edinburgh’s West End neighborhood around 8 p.m. local time. They found Welsh seriously injured in the street and said he died [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content