William Hurt Waves “Yellow Handkerchief”
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Having spent my career in the magazine industry, I know a lot of insider gossip and trivia. For instance, that actor William Hurt is the grandson (by marriage) of Henry Luce, the founder of Time Magazine.
Majoring in drama at Tufts University and Julliard, Hurt debuted in the film “Altered States.” He stood out in the noirish “Body Heat,” and received Academy Award nominations for “Children of a Lesser God,” “Broadcast News,” and “History of Violence,” actually nailing the golden statuette for “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”
Now we find him in “The Yellow Handkerchief,” the road-trip film that’s playing at the Tropic Cinema.
Taking place in the modern-day South, William Hurt takes on the role of an ex-con who embarks on a journey to reunite with his abandoned love (Maria Bello). Along the way he hooks up with two outcast teenagers, one a runaway 15-year-old girl (Kristen Stewart of “Twilight” fame), the other a geeky boy (Eddie Redmayne) seeking acceptance.
The trip takes them through post-Katrina Louisiana, and they dwell on rebuilding their wrecked lives just as the storm-ravaged countryside must be rebuilt.
Hurt found it easy to identify with the character, a man who reveals little of himself while revealing a lot. “The biggest challenge was trying to be true to a rural origin, and a person who didn’t have a lot of education with his blue collar background and being true to the quality of courage and honor that those people who are the platform on which we all stand have,” he says.
For a man with a privileged background, Hurt aligns himself with the common man. “They’re the people who make the whole country work for the rest of us. They know how to work, they’re not superficial and not for show.” He adds, “My cause is an honest middle class.”
Known to be quirky and eccentric, Hurt liked the film’s theme of second chances. About forgiveness and redemption.
Surprisingly, “The Yellow Handkerchief” is loosely based on a short story by former New York Daily News editor Pete Hamill. Who would expect a sensitive story based in the damaged South from a prototypical New York City denizen?
As for William Hurt, he felt the film captured “the poetry and lyricism that basically bubbles up from the ground in Louisiana.”
Hurt and Hamill, two for the road.
[from Solares Hill]