Starring: Rumer Willis, Chris Marquette, Brendan Sexton III
Directed by: Rajeev Nirmalakhandan (“Chooch”)
Written by: Rajeev Nirmalakhandan (“Doing Unto Others”) and Jason Ronstadt (debut)

After escaping a physically abusive relationship, Maya (Rumer Willis) ends up in a small town in the Southwest where she meets Duncan (Chris Marquette), a young man with Asperger’s syndrome and a fascination for maps. Seeing an opportunity to maybe take advantage of Duncan, Maya drags him on the road with her under the guise of reuniting him with his estranged father.

Far less effective than Max Mayer’s 2009 drama “Adam,” which features a charming relationship between a man with Asperger’s (Hugh Dancy) and his new upstairs neighbor (Rose Byrne), there isn’t an intriguing enough narrative to keep “The Odd Way Home” from becoming a melodramatic mess. Marquette has the biggest challenge in portraying someone with this type of autism, but his performance feels unnatural and dictated by a naively-written script.

The highlight of the film comes from actor Brendan Sexton III (“Boys Don’t Cry,” “Black Hawk Down”), who plays Dave, one of Maya’s down-to-earth friends who attempts to help her during a difficult time in her life. His contribution, however, is in vain since no one else, including director Rajeev Nirmalakhandan, follows suit. Sure, the effort is there, but “The Odd Way Home” ultimately leads to a vast series of cliché and predictable scenarios that run out of gas.

“The Odd Way Home” screened as part of the 2013 Austin Film Festival.

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