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2003 - NR - 102 Mins.
Director: Gavin Heffernan
Producer: Sebastian Grobys, Samantha Gutterman
Written By: Gavin Heffernan
Starring: Janet Lane, Gavin Heffernan, Erin Simkin, Yetide Badaki, Denise Depass, Paul Rogic, Laen Hershler, Margaret Garrard
Review by: James O'Ehley
   
EXPIRATION kicks off with Sam (director Gavin Heffernan) finding out that Niki (Erin Simkin), his sometimes platonic and sometimes not-so platonic girlfriend of several years is pregnant. Sam is the father, or so Niki claims. Being a basically decent sort Sam decides to do the honorable thing.

He takes her out to a fancy restaurant (cracking an insensitive joke about how the red décor resembles a womb) intending to propose to her. However, he can’t work up the nerve to ask her, instead nervously fidgeting with the wedding ring under the restaurant table.

Afterwards, they want to leave but Niki gets sick and throws up all over the pavement. She needs her “pills”, but doesn’t have any. Sam graciously offers to buy her some at the local late-nite store. However, while there the shop is robbed at gun point and the robber takes off with Sam’s diamond ring.

Or make that the Sam’s mother’s old wedding ring. The ring may have bad memories attached to it (Sam’s father deserted both long ago), but nevertheless Sam is determined to get it back.

Also in the store is Rachel (played by the lovely and excellent Janet Lane). Rachel is a drug courier who was on her way to drop off a delivery, and the store robber has just inadvertently run off with several thousands of dollars’ drugs. If she doesn’t make her delivery there’d be hell to pay . . . she’d probably be killed by her slime ball drug pusher boss.

The robber left a clue behind though, and Sam and Rachel team up to find the robber and their stuff back again.

With the missing drugs and vengeful drug boss angle you would expect the plot of EXPIRATION to head off into one direction, namely that of the Tarantinoesque crime thriller. The movie however deftly avoids this and moves into altogether unexpected directions. Late into the movie we’re still introduced to new characters as new and surprising subplots spring up.

This is good because lately one can predict a movie’s ending within ten minutes of entering the cinema. Depressingly I’ve also viewed a lot of independently-made movies lately that just replicates the worst instincts of mainstream Hollywood. Indies are supposed to offer an alternative to mainstream Hollywood, dammit! Not just be Hollywood pics with low budgets . . .

EXPIRATION isn’t one of them. Since the bulk of this cheaply made Canadian effort with a cast of unknowns takes place over the course of one evening it reminded me of Scorsese’s neglected 1985 AFTER HOURS feature as well as NIGHT ON EARTH. However, EXPIRATION couldn’t be more different to these two movies.

Unfortunately EXPIRATION is without its faults however. Some plot points stretches credulity, while other aspects come through as forced and the sort of pretentiousness that is a sign of immaturity. Also, the sound design isn’t very good and at times I found it difficult to make out some of the dialogue. At others ambient background sounds just drowned out the actors.

However, the cast is excellent all-round. EXPIRATION sports some promising newcomers, especially Janet Lane who plays Rachel (will you marry me please?). Also, it was interesting to see another, more seedy side of Canadian life especially after Michael Moore’s documentary about gun violence BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE portrayed as somewhat more placid, pandering to our preconceptions of that country as a docile New Zealand of the Northern hemisphere . . .

EXPIRATION is definitely recommended for the art house crowds . . .
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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