Supertramp’s review published on Letterboxd:
I don't entirely understand it, not even sure I entirely enjoyed it, however, I am still perplexed by what I saw.
There are many films I've watched in the past that on a first veiwing didn't pull me in, (the films of Kubrick, Bergman, or Antonioni) but with time, patience and understanding, they soon became some of my favorites of all time and acknowledged by yours truly as some of the most complex pieces of work in film history.
Anyway, while "Two-Lane Blacktop" didn't captivate that much, I could tell there was a real voice behind the screen. A statement was being made something was being said. The scenes are extensive but meticulous as the film comes off as being cold, and sterile, much like our protagonists.
From what I can gather, "Two-Lane Blacktop" seems to be commenting on the youth culture of the time and masculinity. Mainly how it seems to be a metaphorical 'race' between men. Warren Oates character certainly doesn't fit in with the youth counterculture of the 70's, yet gets caught up with the boys, when he's challenged to a race.
It almost seems like a view of a man's world from the point of view of a non-male. The only female character, a young hitchhiker, tags along with our two racers hoping to find adventure, bonds, or anything to excite her life. She tries to converse with them or get the boys to do something other than cars, but the boys seem to be deaf to her. Yet at the same time they want to reach out but don't know how. While it's never explicitly said, you can tell by the way they look at her longingly and in silence, and this is how I know that Monte Hellman, the director, knew what he was doing. Much like the aforementioned Michelangelo Antonioni, this film knows just how to use silence and nothingness and make that substance in the film. A film of this caliber, a movie with rebels and races, should be exciting and fun, but it's not fun. It's drab and even depressing at times, which is just what these lives truly are. From an outsiders perspective, all this is nonesense and makes our protagonists even less happy.
Our female lead, Girl (yes that's all we have for a name) continues to search down the road and be picked up by other men hoping to find something with them. How long has she been doing this? How many times has she done this before meeting Dennis Wilson and James Taylor. Wait what? They're in this movie!?!?
The boys are free, but free to do what? To discover their own insignificance. To come face to face with their own apathy. But the film seems more critical of what Nietzche called "The Competition" how men are in this world only to compete wit each other. They're afraid to love, to break away from the only worlds they know, and that is their own downfall.
A fascinating film, which I wrote more about than I thought I would. I'm looking forward to watching again and getting more out of it! Check it out if not for the mystery, then as a time capsule.