The Driver and The Mechanic are two car freaks driving a 1955 Chevy throughout the southwestern U.S. looking for other cars to race. They are totally dedicated to The Car and converse with each other only when necessary. At a gas station, The Driver and The Mechanic, along with a girl who has ingratiated herself into their world, meet G.T.O., a middle-aged man who fabricates stories about his exploits. It is decided to have a race to Washington, D.C., where the winner will get the loser's car. Along the way, the race and the highway metaphorically depict the lives of these contestants as they struggle to their destination. Written by
Rick Gregory <email@example.com>
Even though "Easy Rider" came earlier and was much more successful, "Two Lane Blacktop" is a far superior film
I am now convinced Monte Hellman is one of America's most unjustly overlooked filmmakers. "Cockfighter" was good (easially the best hicksploitation film ever made), "The Shooting" was great, and "Two Lane Blacktop" is simply put a masterpiece. Even though "Easy Rider" came earlier and was much more successful, "Two Lane Blacktop" is a far superior film. The films minimalist style is engrossing throughout, and despite the slow pacing your interest never waivers. Its also the greatest road movie ever made because its thematically interesting unlike many other car films. To call this a car film is akin to calling "2001" a sci-fi film or "The Seven Samurai" an action film.
What makes it work so well? For one, the stark minimalism of it all. Hellman proves you don't need flashy effects or a big budget to make a great motion picture (something which Hollywood's school of music video directors hasn't caught on to). Everything is very low key, especially the performances of James Taylor, Laurie Bird, and Dennis Wilson. It perfectly captures the lack of meaning to their lives. Unlike many other counter culture heroes, they seem to be rebelling against nothing except life itself. Secondly, Warren Oates makes the film. Oates is one of the most tragically underrated actors of all time, and this is next to only "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" as his best film. In both, he manages to take a desperate and pathetic man and make him all too human. Its a shame that this is so hard to find as its one of the best films of the decade. (10/10)
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