Starring Amy Seimetz, Bill Heck, Marcus DeAnda, Richard C. Jones
No, this isn’t a story about convenience stores or armpit fetishes. Pit Stop is a local Texas film written and directed by Yen Tan, who moved from Malasia to Texas. While the title does bare significance to the film, it’s only used as a backdrop for people in a small town who pass by each other every day, never knowing they might have similar circumstances. Tan said he wanted to make a film that represented what he witnessed being an outsider moving to Texas.
Gabe (Bill Heck) still lives with his wife Shannon (Amy Seimetz) for their young daughter even though they have long since separated due to Gabe’s interest in men. Shannon is trying to move on with her life, but conveys how much she misses her husband and the life they had made together. Gabe, who just got out of a relationship with a married man, tries to find his purpose in the small town where he works as a building contractor. On the other side of town, Ernesto (Marcus DeAnda) also lives with his ex but has finally asked him to move out so they can both get on with their lives. Ernesto’s partner is in a coma and he visits everyday, reading to him from articles and magazines.
This story could have been a stronger one with better ingredients.
The biggest problem with Pit Stop is that it looks and feels like a small time movie with a tiny budget, making do with locations and actors on hand. I don’t like to discourage young filmmakers from doing what Olivia Wilde said about making movies, “just go do it”, because Tan has done that. However, this story could have been a stronger one with better ingredients. The look of the apartment Gabe and Shannon share really bothered me, because it appeared as if they just picked the most plain looking location they could find and didn’t consider any kind of art direction.
The other major issue I had with the film is that it’s mundane nature, or basically following characters around as they think to themselves, is incredibly boring. Tan has attempted to make a soulful and artistic film that is somewhat taboo, especially in the blue collar towns of Texas, but this film doesn’t feel whole, complete or important enough to stand for anything. Some people might not be interested in the technical awards the Oscars hand out each year, but when you don’t have those artists, like production designers or adamant cinematographers, you realize how integral they are to filmmaking.
About as exciting as a trip to the local convenience store.