The Hi-Line

on May 05, 2000 by Ray Greene
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   If a picture editor removed all the significant pauses from writer/director Ron Judkins' "The Hi-Line," its 104-minute running time could probably be reduced to just under an hour. See, Judkins' characters...Well...They're the kind who feel...more than they can say. Who sigh...rather than articulate. And "The Hi-Line" likes to watch them...Sitting around...wondering what to do.
   Vera (Rachael Leigh Cook) is a smalltown girl who dreams of bigger things. When Sam (Ryan Alosio) comes to town, ostensibly to screen her for a job at a new megamall, Vera thinks it's the chance she's been looking for.
   Then Sam tells her it's all a ruse; he's really a friend of the recently-deceased jailbird father Vera never even knew. Despondent but intrigued, Vera bails on her adoptive parents and bullies Sam into taking her to find her real mother. Infatuation, bonding, and mutual emotional healing ensue.
   It's customary to give novice directors like Judkins a break on an earnest first film. Judkins' heart is unquestionably in the right place, but his camera, well, that's another story. It would be a euphemism to call the "Hi-Line" stately--it's just plain slow.
   While Polvino comes across fairly well, Rachael Leigh Cook (of "She's All That" fame) seems, after a few spunky scenes early on, to grow as bored playing Vera as the audience grows watching her. Despite nobility of purpose, "The Hi-Line" mistakes blandness for naturalistic detail, and tedium for the rhythms of unsung lives.    Starring Rachael Leigh Cook and Ryan Alosio. Written and directed by Ron Judkins. Produced by Molly M. Mayeux and Collin Phillips. Drama. No distributor set. Not yet rated. Running time: 104 min.
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