Movie Review - The Odd Way Home

It's a teenage and grittier version of Rain Man (1988). It's a road trip movie where a battered and abused girl hits the highway with an autistic boy after a relative dies. It's not the autistic boy's father who dies but his grandmother. The initial journey is to find the boy's father but ends with a powerful revelation between the girl and her father.

Rumer Willis stars as Maya, a drifter whose journey starts after a brutal attack at the hands of her supposed boyfriend. She takes a truck and begins driving from Los Angeles to New Mexico until it breaks down. She decides to steal a van to continue on her way.

Chris Marquette co-stars as Duncan, a high-functioning autistic boy who lives in the back of the van that Maya steals. Literally, the back of the van has been converted into a bedroom. When Maya steals the van, Duncan is in the back and Maya only realizes he's there after getting miles away.

Marquette isn't as awkward as Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man. He's not as un-repsonsive in social situations. He's more engaging and not as stiff or robotic. When Maya visits his house, she finds his grandmother dead and that apparently Duncan has been living there with the corpse undisturbed. Yet, Duncan goes to work regularly at a convenience store. He also has his ticks like map-making, going to the bathroom 7 to 8-times a day and videotaping his dental hygiene. Yet, it seems plausible he could live by himself and be okay.

Director and co-writer Rajeev Nirmalakhandan doesn't do much with Duncan beyond this. He's just along for the ride. He and his van are literally a vehicle for Maya to deal with her issues. Chief among them is the cold and bitter relationship between Maya and her mother, played by Veronica Cartwright. The scene between Willis and Cartwright is probably the reason why both actors signed to do this film. It's a testament of the consequences of domestic and sexual abuse.

The movie ends on a note where you're not sure where the characters will go next, but a detour in the road trip takes Maya and Duncan to a place where I'd hope they end.

Maya takes Duncan to her friend Dave, played by Brendan Sexton III. The moment between Sexton and Marquette is one of the best moments in the film. It's sweet. It's touching. It's funny, and Sexton plays it extremely well.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but for mature audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 27 mins.


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