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Culture, Politics and Technology

Kristen Stewart finds nuance in character film

In "The Yellow Handkerchief," characters drive the story more so than plot, but none of them are easy to read.

Kristen Stewart in "The Yellow Handkerchief"In the film, Kristen Stewart plays Martine, a wandering but savvy teen who embarks on a road trip with an older man recently released from prison – played by William Hurt – and the offbeat younger man Gordy, played by Eddie Redmayne. The trio drives through post-Katrina Louisiana as the older man seeks a reunion with a long-ago love, and the two younger characters look for an escape from banality. It's a quieter film, moved forward by nuance, but carries an emotional resonance.

"It's hard to say how I felt about Martine," Stewart said in a telephone interview. "Not a lot happens to explain who she is and where she came from, so you pick up on some of the clues, and add layers slowly. We had a brief rehearsal process, and that helped me figure some things out. Rehearsal can be good – you never know what will happen when you throw some paint on the process and see how it dries."

Stewart filmed "The Yellow Handkerchief" before the first "Twilight" film, the role that propelled her into the spotlight as a pop-culture icon. As lovestruck Bella in "Twilight," the character has an objective, but Martine is looking for direction. The setting helped, Stewart said, the film shot in the aftermath of the hurricane, when things had calmed but people were still getting their lives back together.

"We kept saying that people in New Orleans and the surrounding area kind of represented what we were trying to do with the movie," Stewart said. "There had been some incredible damage, but they were moving forward as best they could."

For British actor and model Redmayne, the film does best by revealing secrets slowly.

"It's kind of sparse, but you find a huge amount within," Redmayne said. "I've done some stage work and it had some of that feel, and that's special for film."

Since making the film, Stewart has seen huge fame come her way, and will likely find that fame growing even more with her upcoming portrayal of rocker Joan Jett in the film "The Runaways." She says, though, that smaller films are fine with her.

"I'm an actor, and I'll take the best movies I can that are offered to me," Stewart said. "That's the nature of what we do, because we aren't making our own movies, so we hope someone else will want us in their movie. I've been lucky. I just want to keep working with good people."

Dan Bennett writes about film from Oceanside, Calif.

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