Adopt a Highway is the story of ex-convict Russell Millings as played by Ethan Hawke. Locked up for 21 years for possession of marijuana, Russell is a man out of time in a world that has moved on. Impressing both his boss and his parole officer with his progress, Rusell only needs to keep his record clean for one more parole visit. However, everything changes when late one night he finds an abandoned baby crying in a dumpster…
…this is one 90 minuter that will effortlessly reduce you to the consistency of a melted Twinkies bar.
Adopt A Highway is built around the injustice of President Bill Clinton’s contentious 1994 “three strikes law” where repeat offenders would find themselves locked up for life, no matter the triviality of their crime. Convicted of drug possession, Ethan Hawke’s Russell is later released into a world where even though drugs have been deescalated and people like him are still left to rot in jail. Desensitised and brutalised by his loss of youth, Russell becomes a shuffling shadow of the young man who had dreams in front of him.
Forever flinching at every genteel request is made of him, Ethan Hawk’s naturalistic performance of Rusell is the real glue to this arresting film. This is further amplified when he then finds a discarded baby in a dumpster outside his work. With both of them fragile and at odds with the world that they find themselves in, Russell agonises over crossing a line that might well see him sent to prison forever.
In a truly affecting film about second chances, horror studio stalwart Blumhouse surprises you by releasing such a tender film. Tightening itself around your heartstrings, both its script and superb ensemble cast (most notably Elaine Hendrix as wastrel acquaintance, Diane) convey the genuine panic that comes when deciding to care for somebody else.
Shorter than either you’d expect or possibly want, Adopt A Highway is A Brief Encounter with an enduring aftertaste. Sublimely observed and with plenty of skilful yet melancholic moments, this is one 90 minuter that will effortlessly reduce you to the consistency of a melted Twinkies bar.
In short, with this movie, it’s love at first sight.