Marie isn’t happy. Sure, she’s in a nice retirement community, but not by choice. Estranged from her family, she refuses to attend her 22-year-old granddaughter’s wedding. (“She’s too young,” Marie says.) One thing that makes her happy: long walks to escape her life. So it makes perfect sense to her, at the height of her frustration, to literally take a hike to revisit places of the past, see the ocean again for the first time in more than 40 years and make amends with her family.
In “Redwood Highway,” having its local first-run premiere Friday in the Screening Room Cinema Cafe (3131 Sheridan Drive, Amherst), it’s an 80-mile hike along the gorgeous Oregon road of the title. Sound implausible? Not for this fiercely independent and stubborn 75-year-old.
It takes only minutes to become engrossed in this charming tale as Marie, with backpack and camping supplies, walks with a determined stride along the picturesque highway as her family and law enforcement search frantically for her. “They took my house and my car, but they haven’t taken my legs yet,” she says at one point when offered a ride.
Award-winning actress Shirley Knight is a standout as Marie, who we watch blossom on her journey. She literally lights up when she meets kindred spirits on her journey, including the kind single-mom Stacia (Michelle Lombardo). Scenes with Tom Skerritt as a widower in a small town are especially heartwarming.
“Redwood Highway” screens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and next Thursday in the Screening Room. Admission is $6-$7.
– Toni Ruberto