Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Russell Hornsby, Rukiya Bernard
Directed by Stuart Gordon
I’m sure you’re all aware that the latest flick from Re-Animator and Dagon director Stuart Gordon is based on a real incident that happened back in 2001 in Texas. It’s hard to believe, but I guess it’s true when they say you can’t make this shit up.
Brandi (Suvari) is a young nurse working in a rest home whose boss has just hinted at her that she may be up for a pretty big promotion. She goes out for her usual Friday night wind down which consists of taking E, smoking weed and drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and on the way home she hits a homeless man, embedding him in her windshield.
Tom (Rea) is having a very bad day. His landlord tells him he either pays his rent or he’s out on the streets, but all Tom wants is to make it down to the employment agency so he can find a job. He’s forced out, clothes in hand, and spends most of the day waiting for his appointment at the agency, only to be told that he’s “not in the system”. Now he’s got no place to go and when he tries to hunker down in the local park, the cops throw him out. While searching for a safe haven, he’s struck by a car and gets embedded in the windshield.
What’s a young girl with hopes of a quick promotion to do? Get help? Call an ambulance? Admit to what happened and just deal with the repercussions? Nope, just leave him in the window and let him die. That’s what happened in the real story, and Gordon doesn’t deviate much from it.
The first thing I said when I came out of the movie was “well, that’s what I’d expect from a movie about a guy stuck in a windshield”. Telling statement, no? Stuck is a strange little film; very hard to categorize (not that any of Gordon’s movie really fit anywhere comfortably, one of the things I love about ‘em) and a lot harder to review than I had expected. You’ve got a story about a woman who’s normally probably a pretty normal person pushed into a situation I don’t think any of us could imagine.
Of course, you can’t help but want to smack her around for making the stupid decisions she makes, most notably leaving a man embedded in her windshield, but Gordon actually manages to make you feel a little bad for her. Not a lot, just a little. And that’s saying something about Gordon’s storytelling skills if you ask me, not to mention the excellent screenplay by John Strysik, mostly known for his “Tales From the Darkside” work.
Mena Suvari helps garner the sympathy, of course, never seeming to be in just the right light, staying just this side of beautiful. Stephen Rea was an inspired choice for the role of Tom, you really feel like it already sucks to be in his shoes from the moment you meet him, never mind the rest of his time stuck in the windshield of a car. Who really surprised me, though, was Russell Hornsby in the role of Rashid, Brandi’s boyfriend. Even though he has all the markings of a thug; the size, the drug connections, the big talk about all the bodies he’s disposed of, he never actually acts like a thug. He’s actually a really likeable guy for the most part, save for the stupid decisions he makes throughout.
Stuck is a hard movie not to like; there’s genuine tension being built as soon as the movie starts, a good amount of squirm-inducing moments to keep gorehounds satiated, and an overall sense of humor that helps you never take it too seriously, despite the rather depressing subject matter. Plus it's just a very strange story, and we can never have too many of those.
What's going to likely turn most people away is the overall tone of Stuck; since it focuses on hopeless people dealing with their own shattered realities, it's not what one would call an uplifting film. Though I don't suspect one would expect it to be, the bleak outlook may serve to bring you down a bit. That, or make you realize that hey, maybe shit's not so bad in your life after all!
4 out of 5
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