Review: Four Lane Highway

Four Lane Highway

Four individuals embark on journeys of self-discovery in Four Lane Highway, with each one eventually learning more than viewers are apt to from writer-director Dylan McCormick’s cliché-riddled indie jalopy. Leaving no hackneyed stone unturned, McCormick’s feature debut follows carpenter Sean (Fred Weller), the son of a famous novelist, as he travels from his sleepy Maine hometown to New York City to see the artist girlfriend Molly (Greer Goodman) who ditched him two years prior because of his self-destructive unwillingness to deal with his daddy issues. McCormick segues between the present and the past in order to gradually reveal the inception and dissolution of Sean and Molly’s affair, but his graceless editing creates no clear distinction between the two time frames, leaving his dual narrative strands feeling equally clunky. In neat and tidy fashion, every character has a deep-seated problem they’re reluctant to confront, including Molly (afraid of NYC art-world failure), Sean’s best friend and housemate Lyle (alcoholic), and Molly’s Manhattan roommate Sasha (one-night stand-aholic), though Sasha (Elizabeth Rodriguez) is given such short shrift by the film that it’s impossible to figure out what she’s thinking when, during a moment of transcendence, she stares into a mirror and caresses her chest. Scant screen time would have been the prudent tactic to take with the entire cast, which is uniformly affected, unbelievable and chemistry-free, a situation at least partly due to a script overflowing with wooden dialogue and unnatural scenarios. The story’s structure—two primary leads, two talkative, idiosyncratic comedic sidekicks, alt-country tunes for emotional embellishment—quickly becomes as worn-out as the presence of Reg Rogers (as Lyle), whose drunken wisecracks should immediately land him in Overacting Anonymous. Meanwhile, despite Sean and Lyle’s mature decision to stop hitting on students at a nearby campus bar, McCormick’s pedestrian aesthetic reinforces the impression that Four Lane Highway is the cinematic equivalent of a cheesy, confessional acoustic-guitar ballad sung in a café by a heart-on-his-sleeve kid looking to pick up girls.

 Cast: Frederick Weller, Greer Goodman, Reg Rogers, Elizabeth Rodriguez  Director: Dylan McCormick  Screenwriter: Dylan McCormick  Distributor: Sky Island Films  Running Time: 104 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2005

Nick Schager

Nick Schager is the entertainment critic for The Daily Beast. His work has also appeared in Variety, Esquire, The Village Voice, and other publications.

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