The self discovery road trip movie is a popular sub genre. There is the relatable quality to trying to learn about oneself mixed with romanticism of finding one’s true identity. She’s in Portland is an uneven entry into the field. Wes (Tommy Dewey) seems to have it all. He is successful and has a beautiful family. Still, it is clear something is not quite right. His best friend Luke (Francois Arnaud) is not doing as well. He is struggling at his dream job and about to quit. The two decide to head to Portland so Luke can find Maggie, the “one who got away.”
The plot for She’s in Portland goes exactly as expected. Wes and Luke envy each other’s lives, they meet people who offer advice, and even the vehicle they are going to use falls in their laps. There is nothing new or surpassing here. Road trip movies are not about reinventing the wheel, however. It is more about what the characters learn on their journey. She’s in Portland constantly puts Luke and Wes in situations that allow them to reevaluate their lives. This is another standard part of these types of films.
The chemistry between the two leads makes sure the trope works. Both do a great job of working with each other. Dewey and Arnaud are not playing characters; they come across as long time friends. The supporting cast does not quite fare as well. This has nothing to do with their performances. As a matter of fact, everyone does an excellent job. It is more about the writing.
The leads are the focal point of any journey about baked discovery. The ancillary characters are there to serve a very important function. They help on the path to enlightenment. In She’s in Portland, the moments are forced and the supporting characters are little more than caricatures. It is bearable thanks to the sheer beauty of She’s in Portland. Director Marc Carlini takes full advantage of the natural beauty of the West Coast. The picturesque backdrop only adds to the adventures of the two.
Audiences tend to like stories about people trying to find out who they really are. It is something almost everyone watching can understand. She’s in Portland follows many of the expected plot points that are loved. This expectation will add to the enjoyment of the movie. It is flawed and predictable but strong performances and direction make it a worthwhile watch.