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Movie review

'Stuck' without a clear direction

In Stuart Gordon's 'Stuck,' Mena Suvari plays a nurse in Providence who strikes a homeless man with her car, then leaves him on the windshield. In Stuart Gordon's "Stuck," Mena Suvari plays a nurse in Providence who strikes a homeless man with her car, then leaves him on the windshield.
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / June 6, 2008

The director Stuart Gordon and the screenwriter John Strysik had an idea: A Providence nurse (played by, say, Mena Suvari) - high on Ecstasy, her hair in cornrows, checking her cellphone - would hit a homeless guy (maybe cast Stephen Rea) with her car one night. The homeless guy would remain lodged in her windshield, parked in her garage, while she has sex with her boyfriend and shows up for work at an elder care facility, refusing to call the police or apply her medical skills. Their idea was to call the movie "Stuck."

There are other ideas in Gordon's latest work of schlock, not all of them so inspired. The early scenes find Rea's downsized executive, Tom Bardo, fleeing his flophouse landlord, having no luck at the employment agency, and winding up pushing a shopping cart around town in the wee hours of the morning. Presumably, the woman who plows into him - Suvari's Nurse Brandi - doesn't take him to a hospital because she's angling for a promotion at work and because the movie would be about 30 minutes long. So we get to see Rea try to save himself - he honks the horn, reaches for a dying cellphone, and attempts to pull himself off the hood.

Gordon and Strysik are aiming for - well, I don't know. The movie is based on a real incident (didn't this very same jam happen to some poor fellow on an episode of "CSI"?), and a lot of the woozy photography and functional performances - from, say, the actors playing the illegal immigrants next door - feel like a tribute to crime show reenactments.

The rest of the movie's tone jumps without warning from social commentary to situation comedy to absurdist violence (Brandi whacks Tom unconscious with a board) to the unprintable sexual histrionics of Jerry Springer to a gross revenge horror-thriller. Somebody mentions the current Bush administration's notorious adventures as an excuse for people to do whatever they want. That's a belief that feels more tacked on than explored.

Gordon made similar lurches all over the map in his previous exercise in grotesquerie, "Edmond," which was based on a David Mamet play and starred William H. Macy as, of all things, a racist misogynist on a grisly bender. "Stuck" could have used some of that outrageousness. But it doesn't ask much of Rea, Suvari, and Russell Hornsby, who breaks an impressive Shakespearean sweat as Brandi's drug-dealing boyfriend. The sight of Rea acting his way out of a plastic garbage bag is an embarrassingly funny low point. If he has to lie hunched over a dashboard for the better part of an hour, he should seem like more than a piece of furniture.

Stuck

Directed by: Stuart Gordon

Written by: Gordon and John Strysik

Starring: Stephen Rea, Mena Suvari, and Russell Hornsby

At: Kendall Square

Running time: 86 minutes

Rated: R (Strong violence, disturbing content, sexuality/nudity, language, drug use, and a bloody Stephen Rea stuck in a windshield)

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