Taking place over a single night in downtown Minneapolis, the film follows two former high-school acquaintances (Sam Rosen and Zoe Lister-Jones) getting to know each other as each confronts a personal crisis.
Casper, a U.S. soldier on leave from Afghanistan, is home for a few days to deal with his father's death. Meanwhile, graduate student Rebecca faces the messy blowback of an affair with her comparative-lit professor (played by Michael Imperioli). It's been ten years since these two last saw each other, and a mix of curiosity and attraction finds them wandering from one nocturnal gathering place to the next—a bar, a party, an indoor circus, a convenience store, an empty playground. Between encounters with a handful of other characters, they catch each other up on where their lives have taken them and what kind of adults they've become.
In some ways it's all very Before Sunrise: a boy, a girl, a long conversation taking place over the course of a single night. But because these characters are grown-ups with a shared history, the drama derives more from nostalgia and revelation than burgeoning romance. As the film points out, who we were in high school—and how we saw each other—often has little to do with where we end up. Rebecca was one of the pretty, popular girls, while Casper was a shy, sensitive geek worshiping her from afar; and while their current incarnations as (compromised) academic and (unlikely) soldier leave them seemingly just as mismatched, they come to recognize a shared sensibility and similar defense mechanisms for coping with life's traumas.
|Zoe Lister-Jones, Sam Rosen|
Based on its recommendations of "like" films, Netflix seems to believe Stuck Between Stations is some kind of gay-themed chick flick. It's neither. It's a quiet film, driven more by character than plot, more by real life than rom-com cutesiness (not to say it doesn't have its share of humor). In other words, it's the type of movie that might easily slip beneath the radar to be mistaken for so many low-budget films that give indies a bad name.
But don't let the lack of big stars or the unappealing promotional artwork discourage you (could that DVD packaging be any more generic?). If you enjoy the vanishing art of conversation in movies and take pleasure in watching two people construct a genuinely felt relationship right before your eyes, then put this one on your list. It should singlehandedly banish the bad taste left by too many junkie strippers with hearts of gold.