In the oppressively ruminative indie "How I Got Lost," floundering sportswriter Jake (Jacob Fishel) and his cynically aggressive Wall Street buddy Andrew (Aaron Stanford) are twentysomethings in a perpetually floating angst a year after 9/11.
Spurred by Andrew's belief that their life plans are at the root of their problems, the pair escape New York for seemingly no reason. But their stop in rural Ohio reveals a certain emotionally motivated determination on Andrew's part, while Jake's romantic woes over a mysterious beauty he left behind begin healing when he meets a single-mom waitress (Rosemarie DeWitt).
The problem with writer-director Joe Leonard's well-intentioned road trip is that the skill of his actors is undercut by slick moodiness, dime-store philosophizing and an egregiously low-burning pace. The third act, in particular, goes for a wrapping-up series of incidents and narrated nuggets of wisdom that eschew genuine character development for forced closure.
"How I Got Lost" wants nothing more than to definitively contextualize post-9/11 fears of thwarted ambitions for the younger set, but its characters' path to recovery is less a case of dramatically arresting misplacement than a woefully routine, overly structured journey.
"How I Got Lost." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 27 minutes. At the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.