After spending almost half his life behind bars, a man will discover a new world on his own, and where exactly he fits within it. Marking the directorial debut of Logan Marshall-Green (Upgrade, The Invitation), Adopt a Highway is an emotional journey through heartbreak and reinvention, which also shares a harsh reminder of the reality our prison system serves to some.
Russell Millings (Ethan Hawke) is entering an unrecognizable world in his late 40s. After spending more than half his life in prison, he is thrown into a life he was not prepared for, with nothing but the items he had on him decades ago. While he gets a job at a fast food chain, and resides in a motel, he’s otherwise not set up for success by the state.
Just as he’s getting into a rhythm, his life is jolted when he discovers a discarded infant in a dumpster. He forms a quick bond with the little girl, finding a bit of focus in all the confusion. Though he will slowly come to terms that he’s not truly set up to care for her.
A surprising production from Blumhouse, which is mostly known for horror, Adopt a Highway was easily one of my Top 5s from SXSW. It’s the type of film that will break your heart, but somehow finds a way to lift you up. There’s a fragility to the story and you feel that along the way. Hawke exceptionally portrays such a broken man, almost still child-like in nature, trying to navigate as best he can. It’s a realistic representation of what many face as they exit the correctional system, after spending a major portion of their life confined to it.
Furthermore, the film will also have you thinking about all the people still being held on criminal charges, ones that have since lessened in modern times. Here is a man who finds himself released for a “crime” that is legal in many states nowadays – it’s heartbreaking.
My only true complaint of the film was that I felt it was too short for such a heavy story. There was so much more to explore with Russell’s journey, that 78-minutes just simply didn’t serve enough. Though it left me feeling a great sense of ease at the end.
Currently there are no release plans slated for the film, but I would guess it’ll be sold to a streaming platform. So stay tuned!