3 July 2011 | gradyharp
Love: Finding It, Losing It, Reclaiming It
THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF is a very quiet, small film that depends on dialogue rather than action. It began as a short story by Pete Hamill and was adapted for the screen by Erin Dignam. As directed with quiet intensity by Indian director Udayan Prasad the film is more an exploration of isolated individuals who for different reasons do not fit into society and how four of those individuals discover themselves through their interaction with each other.
Brett Hanson (William Hurt) is discharged form prison where he has served six years for manslaughter: he has a history of run-ins with the law and seems to face his release with a certain degree of fear of the outside world. He meets two youngsters - the lonely Martine (Kristen Stewart) who has only a father and an absent one at that, and Gordy (Eddie Redmayne), a Native American asocial misfit itinerant - and because of a sever rain storm the three set out in Gordy's car to find shelter. They stay in motels and gradually each characters past unfolds: the running development is Brett's history of coming close to a significant relationship with a fearful woman named May (Maria Bello) whose fear of relationships was temporarily resolved with her romance with Brett - all of this history is played through flashback scenes when Brett was working oil rigs in New Orleans. Martine and Gordy are fascinated and a bit fearful of Brett as an ex-con but they both connect with Brett's essentially good spirit and insist that he stay with them and allow the bonding youngsters t help him recover the one love he had.
Two generations of lost people collide then bond and learn from each other. There is considerable emotional energy in this somewhat laconic film with as much being discovered by silences as with dialogue. William Hurt offers a profoundly understated performance: Stewart and Redmayne provide the perfect naïve foil for his reconnection with the world outside prison walls - both the physical prison he has just left and the mental prison in which he has been hiding all his life. Maria Bello is convincing as the strong woman who fears vulnerability while desperately in need of being loved. This is a film that may not have made it in theaters but is probably best viewed in the intimacy of the home via DVD.