Freeway (1996), Cert 18.

Director - Mathew Bright.

Writer - Mathew Bright.

Starring - Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland, Brooke Shields, Dan Hedeya & Amanda Plummer.


Premise - A modern retelling of the 'Red Riding Hood' fairy tale. Vanessa (Reese Witherspoon) is the daughter of a whore (Amanda Plummer) who sets out for her grandmothers when her mother is arrested for prostitution. On the way she is picked up by Bob (Keifer Sutherland) and things get complicated.

Freeway is sick, twisted and treats the viewer to the blackest of black humour. So why didn't I like it all that much? This sort of thing is usually right up my alley, but something just didn't 'click'.

I'll run through what I think worked first before looking at the negative points.

The idea itself is a good idea. The basic story of 'Red Riding Hood' is adhered to very closely (at least as close as you can in a contemporary setting) and what is added is at times very clever.

Keifer Sutherland is very good as Bob Wolverton (nice play on words) and can go from being sincere and helpful to creepy and manipulative at the drop of a hat. reese Witherspoon is also good, she gives the kind of ballsy performance that an actress twice her age would find tricky to pull of.

The supporting cast is for the most very good also. Dan Hedeya is solid as is Brooke Shields (jeez, never though I would say that!).

First time director/writer Mathew Bright shows some promise behind the camera. Quite stylish, he was obviously taking tips from executive producer Oliver Stone. In-fact Freeway sometimes feels like a bad Oliver Stone film.

So, to the negative points.

The film is sometimes the victim of it's own source material. The 'Red Riding Hood' motif is sometimes hammered home a little to hard. Examples being Vannesa almost always wearing red, she carries a picnic basket (do people still own picnic baskets?) and a hilarious scene near the end with Bob in Vanessa's grandmothers bed, hair net and all. For my money the film could have benefited from being a little more subtle with the 'Red Riding Hood' theme.

I touched on how the supporting cast were for the most part good. The exceptions being Vanessa's mother and her step dad. Luckily they don't feature much, but they are annoying when they are on screen. Amanda Plummer in particular is to blame, she play's the part a little too over the top. Think her role from Pulp Fiction, but after 10 viagra and a pot of coffee, then your getting close.

Whilst the black comedy moments are quite funny, they are for the most part a little too ridiculous. You have to suspend belief to an unheard of level to accept some of the things in the movie. I got the feeling that Bright wasn't so much trying to amuse the audience as test how much the audience would accept before saying, 'whatever'.

So what you have is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand you have a fairly amusing black comedy with two nice leading performances. On the other hand you have 'Red Riding Hood' imagery constantly rammed down your throat, ludicrous plot turns and some intensely irritating characters.

Not recommended.


3/10 for Freeway.

Poster Quote - Buy one get one free.....