Updated: Sep 2, 2022
Though not a fun road to drive on, Paradise Highway leads to a different and revealing side of the trucking world. Different because a woman drives the story—and truck. Intriguing because her work puts her into the realm of human trafficking and an extra conundrum from a choice she must make.
Oscar winner Juliette Binoche pulls off the emotional challenges that arise with two lives at stake and only one chance of survival. Immersing herself in the role, she puts aside any hint of glamor. She ignores her project’s hair and make-up department and wears a headband, shirt, and jeans that will never pass muster at a trendy party but make driving more comfortable. A bit of dialogue explains her French accent, and the rest of her mannerisms seem to come from someone hardened by years surviving in a man’s world.
Writer-director Anna Gutto adds a woman’s perspective to that masculine universe, showing a network of women drivers who watch one another’s backs when possible. But Gutto also explores deeper concerns involving exploitation aspects of the world that includes illegal trafficking.
This brings in young Hala Finley, who exudes the unteachable charisma that draws people to her and makes them care. A pre-teen with a track record that goes back more than five years, she holds her own with the likes of Binoche plus Morgan Freeman, one of the project’s other calling cards. Playing a special agent, he joins Camron Monaghan in repartee that gives the story a few bits of humor. The topic and overall tone remain serious, with Paradise Highway providing an intriguing journey. Paradise Highway screens on streaming platforms like Apple and Amazon. 'Paradise Highway': Robin's movie review (kunr.org)