Movie Review: Redwood Highway

Redwood Highway

Marie (Shirley Knight) is not happy living in a retirement community in Southern Oregon. Her son comes to visit her dutifully, and she hides when he comes. Her 22-year-old granddaughter Naomi is getting married to a 34-year-old artist, whom Marie has stereotyped as a no-good loser. She does not approve of the wedding, and does not intend to go. Marie is generally disgruntled with her life, cushy as it may seem in a nice retirement home. So one day she loads up her backpack and walks away, reminiscent of the Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared I recently read and reviewed.

Her destination is the Oregon coast, 80 miles away, to be an unexpected guest at her granddaughter’s wedding. She will get there on foot, along the Redwood Highway. She hasn’t been to the ocean in 45 years, and she thinks it’s about time. But walking 80 miles for a grandma through the woods is not easy, and she couldn’t quite do it on her own without the help of a few “trail angels” along the way. One of them is a lonely widower named Pete (Tom Skerritt), who helps her with her blisters and with good advice, including maps. Another is Stacia (Michelle Lombardo), who invites her into her home and patches her up, physically and emotionally.

What she does not know is that her disappearance has triggered a manhunt all over Southern Oregon, as her son and granddaughter suspect foul play.

Redwood Highway is a nice feel-good movie. There have been times when I have felt like grabbing my backpack and walking away, many times. But there were some flaws in the film. Marie had some scenes of flashbacks to her own youth and lovers, but those were always inconsistent, sketchy and disconnected. She would hallucinate characters, talk and yell out loud to them, only to have them disappear, and I, as the audience, could never quite figure out who they were and why they were important. In my opinion, every flashback, every hallucination, every scene of Marie’s mental instability could just have been omitted,  and the plot and story would not have suffered, but rather turned out more stable and consistent. Another ten minutes of survival adventure and a more elaborate ending would have made a better movie. It my rating, this flaw cost half a star.

Interestingly, Redwood Highway is listed as having earned only $100,000 at the box office. Obviously a real flop. But then, it’s rated 80% on the Tomatometer, and it is the highest-rated movie of the actress Michelle Lombardo, who started her career as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model about 10 years ago.

Perhaps you need to be “older” to enjoy this. But I am “older”, so it worked for me.

Rating - Two Stars

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