Stuck (2007)

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Mena Suvari
Mena Suvari
Stephen Rea
Stephen Rea
Russell Hornsby
Russell Hornsby
Rukiya Bernard
Rukiya Bernard
Carolyn Purdy-Gordon
Carolyn Purdy-Gordon
Review by Chad
Added: November 02, 2008
How's this for bizarre: Stuck is a movie that I had been wanting to see for quite some time, but instead of doing its job and making me even more excited for the final product, the trailer for Stuart Gordon's latest made me completely lose interest in checking it out. Doesn't it usually work out the opposite way? I mean, distributors and producers have been using trailers to make absolute garbage look like movie-of-the-year candidates for years now, but to completely shatter a film's momentum with a ninety second compilation of clips? I honestly put this one off for a couple of weeks due solely to that trailer, and in fact, if Gordon's name hadn't been attached to it, I probably would have never even bothered at all. That's a shame, because the film is actually nothing short of perfection.

My problem with that trailer was simple: it made the movie look like a comedy, and when you see the sort of material that Gordon was working with here, you'll realize why a comedic take on the situation probably wouldn't work. You see, tonight's film is based on the life and crimes of Chante Mallard, a young lady from Texas who decided to go out and get drunk one night, and while on her way home, she hit a bum so hard that he flew through her windshield and became lodged halfway inside the car.

Instead of going to the hospital or calling the police, Mallard drove home, locked the car in her garage, and went to have sex with her boyfriend while the guy died. I thought that this concept would make for a damned fine movie when I initially heard about it, but that wretched little trailer completely turned me off to it after it tried to convince me that this was going to be a comedic affair. This is the part that baffles me: save for the opening scene and a few tension-breakers here and there, the film isn't a comedy at all. So, why try to sell it as such, especially when doing so alienates at least a portion of the viewers who might have given it a shot?

Although a few of the details have been changed and even though "any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental", the storyline for the film plays out almost exactly like the crime committed by the aforementioned Texan... to a point, that is. We begin with an introduction to both of the lead characters, where we first meet Brandi (Mena Suvari), a kind, caring nurse's aide who has just learned that she's about to receive a promotion. On the other side of town, we catch up with Thomas (Stephen Rea), a down-on-his-luck fellow who has just been evicted from his apartment with little more than the clothes on his back. These two will soon meet in the most unfortunate of ways after Brandi plows into Thomas with her car and "brings him home" for the evening. Much like the real-life Mallard, our heroine leaves the man to die in her garage, but this is where the film deviates from reality as he refuses to just give up and die. With the help of her boyfriend Rashid (Russell Hornsby), Brandi must figure out what to do with this man, and on the other side of the coin, Thomas must figure out a way to escape before his severe injuries take their toll.

Even though it may seem pretty cut and dry in print (Brandi is an evil bitch and Thomas is the innocent victim), Gordon wisely made the two characters equally likable. It's hard not to pity the man who has just lost everything and who now finds himself slowly dying in the windshield of a stranger's car as the coup de grāce, but at the same time, Brandi is presented as a lady who simply panicked in the heat of the moment and made a mistake that she now has to dig herself out of. How can we not sympathize with a woman who we have just watched clean shit off of a senile man's ass - with a smile on her face no less - as part of her job and then get berated by her boss immediately afterward? The fact that she seems genuinely remorseful over her actions does nothing but further the sympathy that we feel for her, even if she does make one wrong move after another. Audiences will surely side with one character or the other as the film moves along, but again, it's not nearly as black and white as one might imagine.

What makes this even better is the performances turned in by the two leads, as both Mena Suvari and Stephen Rea are perfect in their roles. Suvari in particular stole the show by making this character work; I mean, this woman hits a guy that we have just watched lose everything, takes him home, leaves him in her garage, and then goes to work the next day while trying to forget about him... and we're supposed to feel sorry for her? Well, Suvari makes the character work, and Rea keeps up with her in each and every last scene. Russell Hornsby is also enjoyable as Brandi's boyfriend and serves to spice up a scene or two, and while I can't complain about his performance, there's just no comparing him with the other two leads.

I was also pleasantly surprised by some of the social commentary that Gordon added to the mix. He never got too heavy-handed with any of his messages, but you can easily see that the man was trying to make a statement about America's treatment of the homeless, the "slave to the procedure" nature of public assistance, selective enforcement by the police, and a number of other topics (including a nice little jab at Dubya himself). None of this "made" the movie and again, we're never beat over the head with any of it, but it's always nice to see a film of this nature with a messages to go along with the carnage.

I just can't praise this movie enough. It features flawed yet likable characters that the audience can easily identify with, it has a storyline that will keep you interested until the very end, and horror fans will be pleased to see that a lot can be done in a single garage to up the tension levels. Just don't let that damned trailer fool you - while the film does contain a couple of chuckles here and there, this is definitely not a comedic film. What it is is a damned fun night in front of the tube, and more importantly, it's proof that Stuart Gordon still has it after all these years. 10/10.
grain of sand #1: grain of sand - added 11/02/2008, 10:30 PM
Awesome movie, better ending than I expected to be honest. Didn't really like the occasional rap music that popped up but that didn't happen but 2 or 3 times.

The Red Clover #2: The Red Clover - added 11/03/2008, 04:11 AM
I have to agree with this review and add that I give it a 11/10 with an added point for Stephen Rea.

He's just an all around badass.
bluemeanie #3: bluemeanie - added 11/03/2008, 10:07 AM
I enjoyed this film very much. I don't know that I loved it, but it definitely entertained the hell out of me and I thought Stephen Rea was just outstanding in his role. If anything, I thought it was a little sluggish and I didn't think Mena Suvari was up to the task. But, overall, another solid effort from Stuart Gordon. 7.5/10.
George Snow #4: George Snow - added 11/05/2008, 09:57 PM
I've seen over 50 movies this past month, and this is the best. Excellent performances, great story, perfect script situations. Oh, and that windsheild wiper had me squirming in my seat.

I just wonder why they didn't hire a black woman to play the lead role.
Greg Follender #5: Greg Follender - added 11/24/2008, 01:16 AM
Holy CRAP!

I'm not sure how it happened, but Meanie somehow just channeled me for his review of this film!!!

I completely agree with his assessment of the film's entertainment value... and that Mrs. Suvari simply hasn't the acting chops to make her role completely convincing or compelling on more than a basic level. Stilted acting all around actually... except for the masterful Rea... who took a basic stereotypical role and breathed vibrant life into it with his pure physicality and intensity. He made so much out of so little... it totally carried the film for me.

More exploration of the character's moral ambiguity would have been welcome instead of simply going for the easy grotesque in the film's climax... but overall a fun little movie. A nice departure for Stuart Gordon...

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