Cult director Stuart Gordon strikes again with this fiendishly funny, fact-based contemporary parable about two people whose lives collide, thanks to a bizarre and tragic twist of fate.
It's already a bad day for Tom (Stephen Rea), an unemployed, middle-aged business executive who's about to enter the ranks of the homeless--but things are only going to get worse when the sun goes down. Brandi (Mena Suvari), a young nurse with a penchant for partying, is driving home after celebrating an expected promotion when Tom crosses the street at exactly the wrong moment. Brandi hits Tom then rushes home in abject panic--all the while, incidentally, Tom's body is stuck in her windshield, and he's still alive. While Brandi frantically dithers and deliberates how to extricate herself from this situation without consequences, Tom is trying to physically extricate his broken body from Brandi's windshield. What begins as a simple, if unfortunate, case of hit-and-run becomes a battle of wills between Tom and Brandi--one that crackles with intensity and irony.
Both Suvari and Rea give tremendous performances. Rea's downtrodden dignity is enormously empathetic. His attempts to save himself--exemplifying his renewed will to live--are agonizing to watch but also rousing in their own way, as this underdog fights against some pretty steep (and bloody) odds. Interestingly enough, it's also easy to empathize with Brandi's predicament--for a time. Hitting Tom was an accident, but when she goes into self-preservation mode Brandi's actions become more and more horrific, with the consequences growing exponentially. Suvari (also an associate producer) hasn't had a role this good since American Beauty, and she makes the most of it. There's also a nice turn by Russell Hornsby as Brandi's drug-dealing, two-timing boyfriend Rashid, who gets drawn into her scheme--much to his regret.
Stuart Gordon, whose H.P. Lovecraft adaptation Re-Animator remains one of the premier cult films of the 1980s, has lost none of his savage wit or his taste for dark humor. That this film is inspired by an actual incident only enhances its impact and its stinging irony. Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it's often stronger. Beyond the violence (sometimes extreme) and satire (sometimes overt) are some subtle yet potent observations about human nature--about not taking responsibility for one's actions, about not getting involved, about covering up one's mistakes. Stuck is not a preachy film, but it's frequently a penetrating one (no pun intended).
Hollywood.com rated this film 3 stars.