Released January 22, 1999
One of the many impressive features of Ronald Judkins's debut feature film, The Hi-Line, that lingers on is an all-too-rare cognizance of structure and storytelling. This film doesn't feel compelled to give itself away at the outset. Indeed the elusiveness of the plot is a compelling aspect of the voyage of discovery that both the audience and the film's protagonists eventually embark upon. Sam Polvino comes to the small town of Whitman, Montana, to recruit employees on behalf of his Chicago agency, or so we are led to believe. Vera Johnson, a young-looking high school graduate, still living with her slightly odd parents, is the subject of his first interview and is certainly intrigued by the possibility of a job. However, the real purpose for Sam's inquiries is hidden, even as rumors of his fronting for the imminent arrival of a megaretail outlet swirl around the town. When Sam finally reveals the reasons for his visit, he and Vera are swept up into a journey that explores the past even as it intertwines their futures. With great craft and precision, Judkins has sculpted an engrossing tale of a freezing, windswept community and its inhabitants. Almost sensory in its impact, The Hi-Line utilizes a carefully built narrative to create a budding love story that becomes magical in its resolution. With a striking visual sensibility and a capacity for simple but real characterization, The Hi-Line resonates with a truth and tenderness that transport you into its realm."