For all the beauty of the Montana countryside they pass through, the characters in Derek Bauer’s refined drama don’t always see the route forwards clearly; Two Yellow Lines is a realistic film about ordinary people who seem to have genuine issues to work through rather than conform to some Hollywood archetype, and that’s a big plus from the get-go.
Zac Titus plays Jack Elliot, a former Smokejumper who is just about holding down an outdoorsy timber-felling job when he gets an unexpected call asking him to travel across the state to pick up his estranged daughter Hanna, played by Titus’ own daughter Alexis. Elliot is meant to deliver Hanna to an airport to catch a flight, but when she misses it, he’s trapped in a race against time to do right by her and somehow get back to his workplace before his boss loses patience with him. That father and daughter journey by motorbike takes them down some fresh routes; the friendly Kelly (Alicia Ziegler) and her dad help when the chopper has mechanical issues, but will Jack and Hanna ever truly bond?
While the road movie is an established trope in itself, Two Yellow Lines breathes huge gulps of fresh air into a well-worn premise. When Jack asks his boss for time off, we expect a portrait of uncaring authority, and yet the awkward conversation plays out in a way that’s tough but fair. Similarly, Hanna doesn’t hate her father, and her refusal to get on her flight reflects her concern about her father’s PTSD. In fact, aside from a couple of passing yobs who set up the narrative climax the characters featured here are admirable, and that generosity of spirit sets Bauer’s film apart from the pack; for once, we’re in good company.
Two Yellow Lines is a melancholy, sensitive movie, beautifully photographed by Bauer and acted with great skill by a small, personable cast; for once, you can believe in the development of the central relationship, and the plot mechanics are rarely forced. The press notes mention that Titus Sr suffered for PTSD after his sister died in the 9/11 attacks, and that information only backs up the obvious sincerity of the film.
Picked up by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment for a US release, this is an unassuming sleeper of a film that may well work for Christian viewers, with a lack of sex, swearing and violence a definite plus. It’s always something of an annoyance to me that many critics feel that it’s fine to skip films that even dare to suggest a Christian outlook, but in this case, the critics are the ones missing out. Two Yellow Lines isn’t just for any one persuasion; it offers a spritual journey that provides uncommon insight, and deserves to be seen by a wide audience.