Gruff ex-con Max (Gene Hackman) and a drifter called Lion (Al Pacino) hook up on a deserted, wind-swept California highway, become friends and travel east together, with the former dreaming of opening a car wash and the latter hoping to reconcile with the wife and child he abandoned in Detroit five years ago.
Together they learn about the subtleties of life, love and caring as their journey brings them into contact with a variety of other social misfits who regale them with various life lessons.
When Lion arrives in Detroit he calls his wife who has since remarried. It is the first time we have seen her and the conversation is entirely from her point of view.
Our reactions range from overwhelming sympathy for her having been abandoned to irritation, as she milks her anger past the breaking point, to outrage as she tells Lion a lie so vile that it cracks his layer of defence, sending him into catatonic shock.
This overly arty road movie from director Jerry Schatzberg (The Panic in Needle Park) won the Palme d’Or at the 1973 Cannes festival.