Blue Highway (2011) – By Matt Barry

A story of the passage of time, Blue Highway is a largely character-centered piece that focuses on an older couple, Tom (Chris Mulkey) and Sandy (Karen Landry). On a road trip on a desert highway, tension brews between them as they debate how Tom is handling the news of his terminal illness. Tom’s attitude is one of acceptance, but this may be largely a mask to hide his fear. Sandy is taking Tom to a therapy session in the middle of the desert. During the course of their time together in the desert, they are able to reconnect emotionally as they both cope with Tom’s illness. Camping out in the desert at night, an encounter with a mysterious force – perhaps something from another world – results in startling news for Tom. However, there is one last, tragic twist that quickly changes Tom’s newfound joy into sadness.

Director Rich Newey skillfully tells this emotional story, aided by two strong leading performances. His use of locations is particularly admirable, casting his two main characters, in their search for answers, against the wide expanse of the desert backdrop. Chris Mulkey delivers a standout performance, ranging from a kind of calm acceptance, to fear, to joy, and to sorrow within the course of the film, while maintaining a consistent, believable and moving character throughout. The film is an emotional exploration of two characters, mixing an honest and compelling tale combined with the final narrative irony of an O. Henry short story.

Blue Highway, written and directed by Rich Newey, is presented by Trafficjam Films.