REVIEW: ‘Stationary’ (2020) is a Unique Take on a Commonly Told Story

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Chan produces a well-crafted short film that shows him to be a promising writer and director.

Set mostly within the claustrophobic confines of a parked car, writer-director Louis Chan presents the story of a pair of reunited friends. Over the course of twelve minutes, Stationary explores themes of friendship, redemption and concern as Jimmy (Aaron Thomas Ward) and Che’s (Rebekah Murrell) conversation reveals tidbits of their past. As a former drug dealer who is lucky to have served a short sentence, Jimmy is trying to leave behind his criminal past while Che is still stuck in that world. Stationary sees Jimmy and Che have a conversation about their lives after Che’s younger brother Gino (Xavien Russell) leaves the car.

Ward and Murrell’s acting complement one another beautifully. The two characters are each other’s opposites: Ward plays Jimmy as much quieter and more reflective compared to Che, as he has experienced the consequences of his actions. Jimmy shows that there is the possibility of redemption and change, while Che’s life has stayed the same. Murrell plays Che as a hardened and tough, never holding back in her arguments with Jimmy. She is firm in her opinion and is doing what she knows to survive. Before Gino leaves the car, Jimmy is trying to convince him to attend university and strive for a better life, but his older sister scoffs and lists examples of graduates only being able to get jobs at coffee shops. Che uses Gino to help with the drug business, asking him to make drops before he sees his friends.

Gino represents the crossroads between the characters of Jimmy and Che: he can either remain stationary and follow the path of his sister, or he can change for the better and go to university, like Jimmy. What is interesting about Chan’s film is that neither Jimmy nor Che are totally right. Stationary illustrates how much more difficult life is for low-income children. It is often much harder for them to achieve success due to their economic background and lack of opportunity. University can open doors to prosperity, but it is typically a difficult path for low-income students for reasons such as lacking money for tuition or having poorer grades from attending ill-funded schools. Stationary portrays how low-income people may turn to drugs and other petty crimes just to survive, and with it, Chan opens the conversation as to why poor people stay poor.

Along with well-written characters and a unique take on a commonly told story, Stationary is also notable for its technical prowess. The sound design by Michael F. Bates is incredibly crisp, while composer Gianluca Cardinal uses the score to complement Jimmy’s reflectiveness. However, it is the cinematography that best illustrates the world of these three characters. Chan manages to provide magnificent shots despite the bulk of the story taking place within a parked car. Shots of discarded cigarettes, lingering smoke, and tight framing help orchestrate the tension between Jimmy and Che. Through his writing and eye behind the camera, Chan produces a well-crafted short film that shows him to be a promising writer and director.

Dir: Louis Chan

Prod: Jonathan Caicedo-Galindo, Alexei Slater

Cast: Rebekah Murrell, Aaron Thomas Ward, Xavien Russell, Jacob Avery, Martina Angel Ayuk

Release Date: 9 July 2020