Set in the present-day southern United States, The Yellow Handkerchief stars William Hurt as Brett Hanson, an ex-convict who embarks on a road trip. Hanson hitches a ride with two troubled teens, Martine (Kristen Stewart) and Gordy (Eddie Redmayne) traversing post-Hurricane Katrina Louisiana in an attempt to reach his ex-wife and long-lost love, May (Maria Bello). Along the way, the three reflect on their existence, struggle for acceptance, and find their way not only through Louisiana, but through life.
The story starts with Kinya, who has recently upgraded his car. He’s a young adult and he’s single so naturally he uses his ride to ahem, look for companions. He offers a ride to a shy girl by the name of Akemi and she reluctantly accepts. From the get go, sexual tension is apparent, but things get a bit easier as the two become acquainted. They pick up Yusaku, a 30-something coal miner with a reserved personality. The story slowly begins to shift from the comedic hijinks of Kinya and Akemi to Yusaku’s mental drama. He’s hiding something about his past, which he either wants to forget or is trying to remember.