Two-Lane Blacktop Reviews
Daniel S. of Geneva, Switzerland
"Two pop stars of that period, James Taylor and Dennis Wilson as the driver and the mechanic, race against Warren Oates in a journey through the heart of America. While Taylor and Wilson hardly speak, Warren Oates has a convulsive need to talk to the numerous hitch-hikers he accepts to take for a ride in his GTO.
TWO-LANE BLACKTOP is a road movie, in the tradition of EASY RIDER and THE VANISHING POINT, but the characters don't have to prove anything, they don't even care if they make it to their final destination, Washington D.C. They cannot either be considered as rebels because they don't have an ideal to defend or an authority to face. They are tragic figures without any ideals."
Chris K. Wilson of Dallas, TX United States
"The three main characters, haunted lost souls void of identity and emotion, are played by James Taylor, Dennis Wilson and Warren Oates. Taylor and Wilson silently cruise the backroads of America looking for the next race in their 55' Chevy. They eventually meet Oates, a chattering, nervous man involved in some kind of middle-age crisis while picking up hitchikers in his GTO. These men decide to race cross country, but eventually lose interest.
Throw into this uneasy mix a young hitchiker played by Laurie Bird. She jumps back and forth between these three men, holding off their awkward advances, eventually realizing their emotionless lives are headed down an endless highway without destination.
"Two-Lane Blacktop" is a morose study of men perpetually lost on the backroads of a nameless American landscape. They are hovering ghosts, void of identity, forever searching for a meaning which cannot be found. There are no easy truths or answers in Hellman's complex odyssey. These men are trapped, their cars serving as rolling coffins, redemption seemingly around the next bend, inexorably moving further and further away.
The time period of the early 1970s and the scratchy period music moaning from the AM radio, combined with the faceless gas stations and roadside diners of numerous small towns, all contribute to the overall effect of Hellman's dark character study. "Two-Lane Blacktop" is one of the finest American films no one has ever heard of."
The existential odyssey the characters go on seems to be more about the journey than the actual destination. The conclusion is a clear example of this. Some might find this film very dull, tedious and boring. Nothing much happens. But it captures such atmosphere, mood and place. The almost-always silent brothers, the young girl who disrupts their ordinary world, the Warren Oates character who just consistently wants to pick up hitchhikers and talk their ears off; all these elements add up to a portrait of a distinct culture of the 70's. (Interestingly, both brothers were rock stars in real life, who would never act again). The film might be too understated for most, but for those who appreciate films like The Passenger and Wanda, would likely find much to celebrate.
The rest of the cast is a hippie chick trying to find her way in life, and a race car driver and his Mechanic friend. All the characters are quirky, but only Oates is truly memorable. They bounce around from place to place looking for car action, but the audience gets little of it. A lot less than you might expect. That, and the lack of memorable characters is the reason I can't hold this movie with the highest regard. If you're going to have a slow paced movie, you need engaging characters to make it worthwhile, and that only partly existed here.