56) Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) Dir: Monte Hellman Date Released: October 1972 Date Seen: February 23rd, 2009 Rating: 4.5/5
Richard Linklater is right to say that Two-Lane Blacktop “is about the alienation of everyone else” but only to a point. It isn’t about “the designer alienation of the drug culture and the war protesters” but it could be. The male control phantasy that the film revolves around may be more alluringly steely-gazed and quietly transfixing than most films about soldiers, hippies or heads but at its core, it’s no different.
The connection between The Driver (James Taylor), The Mechanic (Dennis Wilson) and their car essentially revolves around the elasticity of their relationship with The Girl (Laurie Bird). Once that dissolves, without warning or any unnecessary display of histrionics, that one essential bond between that prototypical manly, romantic menage a trois between two men and a machine tightens back up to its breaking point.
This is no more complex than the best portrayals of ‘Nam vets afflicted with PTSD or straights forced to watch their user friends burn out. It’s just that the subtle disintegration of the system that The Driver has based around, er, driving, is the one thing that keeps him sane and is therefore that much cooler and no less truthful than any other proto-‘70s outsider zeitgeist mishigoss.