FOUR LANE HIGHWAY
© 2007 by C.E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
After making the festival circuit (including
playing the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival), Dylan
McCormick's debut feature
FOUR LANE
HIGHWAY
arrives at cineplexes. In the press
notes, McCormick makes the claim that his
movie is something of a throwback to the road
movies that were prevalent in the 1960s and
70s but which have more or less fallen out of
favor. To some extent that is true, but where
the crux of
FOUR LANE HIGHWAY is a trip from
New England to New York, the film is essentially
a portrait of a romance.

The hero is Sean Murphy (Fred Weller), the son
of a novelist who published one book whose
title give the film its name. Sean tried his hand
at writing but felt he could not live up to his
father's legacy -- despite the fact that the older
Murphy only produced that single tome. Sean's
big claim to fame was having a story published
in
The New Yorker and, over the years, has
convinced himself that it only occurred because
of his father's intervention.

At 34, Sean is still spinning his wheels, working
in the same college town where he was raised,
tending bar or doing the odd construction job to
eke out a living. He has a roommate, the
alcoholic Lyle (Reg Rogers), the scion of a
wealthy family who has cut off ties and spends
his time hitting on local co-eds. As the film
opens, Sean learns that his ex-girlfriend Molly
(Greer Goodman, who is married to
writer-director McCormick) is having an art show
in Manhattan. On the spur of the moment, he
decides he has to go to New York City for
closure, since their rocky relationship (which we
see unfold in flashbacks) ended badly.

Living in Manhattan, Molly also has a roommate,
Sasha (Elizabeth Rodriguez), an aspiring actress
who tends to pick up the wrong guys and leaves
the disposal to Molly. Eventually, Sean tracks
down Molly. She initially rebuffs his advances,
then succumbs, then decides it really may be
over.

FOUR LANE HIGHWAY is an okay first film, but
not one that we haven't seen before. McCormick
really doesn't offer any new insights into
relationships or love affairs and the trite ending
feels something of a cop out.

Still, the director has cast the movie well. Greer
Goodman made an impression in
THE TAO OF
STEVE
and here makes Molly into a intriguing
character. Fred Weller has delivered several
strong performances in the past, including
STONEWALL, THE BUSINESS OF STRANGERS,
and
THE SHAPE OF THINGS. He does a
creditable job and shares a nice chemistry with
Goodman.

I've admired Reg Rogers on the stage but
whenever I've seen him on film his performances
have been pitched at too theatrical a level. It's
as if he doesn't know how to play to the camera
-- which is a shame because I really do feel he
has talent. He does provide some comic relief as
the drunken friend in this film, but much of his
work is too big. It's not until near the end of the
movie that he tones it down enough to be truly
effective -- and that occurs mostly in his scenes
with Elizabeth Rodriguez, who proves to be the
best thing in this movie. The camera loves her
and whenever she's on screen she elevates the
movie above its mundane themes.

With
FOUR LANE HIGHWAY, writer-director
Dylan McCormick does show some promise but
he doesn't dig deep enough into the characters.
The audience is never given enough information
about why the relationship between Sean and
Molly falls apart. There's more going on than
what's shown on screen and in those missing
scenes is a much more fascinating movie.

    
Rating:             C
    
MPAA rating:   None
    
Running time:  104 mins.

  Viewed at Magno Review Two
L to r: Fred Weller as Sean and
Greer Goodman as Molly in
FOUR LANE HIGHWAY