December 27, 2019  (Web Review)

Adopt a Highway

RLJE, 81 min., not rated, DVD or Blu-ray: $29.99, Dec. 24

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Filmmaker Logan Marshall-Green’s debut stars Ethan Hawke in a subtle performance as a severely introverted ex-con who learns to reconnect with the world. Hawke’s Russell Millings has served a 20-year term in a California prison for marijuana possession as a result of the state’s tough three-strikes law. Renting a dingy apartment and taking a job at a fast-food restaurant, Russell finds a baby in a dumpster and attempts to take care of her, but panics when he learns that he could be charged with kidnapping. Bringing the child to the police, he fears they might question him, so he quickly leaves town for his home state of Wyoming. On the bus he strikes up a brief encounter with a gregarious fellow passenger and, once back in Casper, finds an encouraging letter from his deceased father along with an inheritance, which enables him not only to set up a trust fund for the infant he briefly cared for but also to embark on a journey to see the country. Onscreen almost without pause, Hawke brings sensitivity and muted sadness to his character despite the fact that it is underwritten and the story itself feels insubstantial. While no indie gem, Hawke’s performance does make Adopt a Highway worth watching. A strong optional purchase. (F. Swietek)