The Greater Good: A Hitchhike Perspective

The Greater Good: A Hitchhike Perspective


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

What's your opinion of hitchhiking? The chances are, if you've not tried it yourself, you think it's dangerous, ill-avised and going out of fashion. That's the popular stereotype, so this short documentary approaching it from the perspective of hitchhikers themselves is a welcome blast of enlightenment. Yes, some of them report having had bad experiences, but the percentage of these in comparison to their good experiences is tiny. Many have travelled all across the US, some around the wider world, repeatedly hitching lifts with strangers. It's a wonderful experience, they say, in part because it makes them aware of how many good people there are in the world.

We meet some of those good people here too, interviewed by their new travelling companions. Several tell us how they make a habit of stopping for strangers. They, too, report very few bad experiences as a result. Some seem to do it to be charitable; one reveals his own very difficult youth and the joy he consequently feels when he is able to help others. Some do it because they like the company and enjoy hearing about different people's lives.

Particularly important here are female narratives, often elided from hitchhiking narratives. Despite the presence of several women who travel alone, we don't hear of a single case of sexual assault. It could be argued that the film is creating a false sense of safety by neglecting those stories – there's plenty of evidence that such assaults occur – but perhaps it is more important, this once, to provide a positive story that can give women more confidence about going out into the world. It's notable that some of those here also report having started to hitchhike as children. For many it seems to have been an important part of growing up.

Unfortunately these fascinating interviews are presented in a disorganised manner that detracts from their impact, and the sound quality is so bad than in places it makes the film unwatchable. These are the perils of amateur filmmaking. It is to be hoped that the makers of this film will have their talent noticed and will be able to obtain better equipment with which to have another shot at telling their tale.

Reviewed on: 23 Mar 2013
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A documentary tracking global hitchhikers as they discuss what travel means to them.

Director: Thomas Francine

Year: 2012

Runtime: 33 minutes

Country: US


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