Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Real-Life Crime Saga Adapted to the Screen

On Friday, October 26, 2001, 27 year-old Chante Mallard, an African-American employed as nurse’s aide, was driving under the influence of both booze and illegal drugs following a night of partying when she hit Gregory Biggs as he was crossing the street. The 37 year-old, homeless white man became wedged in the windshield, and no amount of shaking could roll him off the hood.
Biggs was bleeding but alive, and although his injuries were not yet life threatening, Chante decided to drive home without ever calling an ambulance or reporting the accident to the police. Instead, she invited her boyfriend, Clete Jackson, over, and for the rest of the weekend they continued to drink alcohol, smoke pot, do Ecstasy and make love, while intermittently checking on the deteriorating condition of the guy in the garage.
When Mr. Biggs finally bled to death a couple of days later, they dumped his body in a park in Fort Worth, Texas with the help of Clete’s cousin and set the car on fire elsewhere to hide the evidence. The only reason the trio got caught is because Chante was overheard laughingly recounting the incident to friends several months later. She was subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, while her boyfriend got 10 years, and their accomplice after the fact got 9.
Stuck, a crime story only loosely based on the above events, stars Mena Suvari (American Beauty) as Brandi, a white girl sporting corn rows and dating an overbearing black drug dealer named Rashid (Russell Hornsby). Soon after the point of departure we find the pair in a noisy nightclub where he pressures her to trust him and take an unidentified pill although she’s obviously already inebriated.
Not long thereafter, she leaves alone and while talking to Rashid on her cell phone runs into a hobo (Stephen Rea) pushing a shopping cart. His head on resting the dashboard, the bum begs Brandi for help, and at first she heads for the hospital, only to panic and turn around. “You should’ve watched where you were going,” she blames the victim, though still promising to get help.
The screen version of the saga departs considerably from the known facts in order to present Brandi as a somewhat sympathetic and emotionally-conflicted figure. Instead, it’s her Svengali-like boyfriend is portrayed as the more culpable monster. While these two mate like rabbits in a controlled substance-fueled frenzy, the picture introduces an array of colorful passersby who come close to discovering their semi-comatose hood ornament. There’s a kid chasing an errant soccer ball, curious illegal aliens, a dog walker and nosy neighbors.
Surprisingly taut and absorbing, even if you’re already familiar with the famous case, Stuck is a harrowing tale which maintains a palpable tension for the duration. Just don’t watch it on an empty stomach

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for nudity, profanity, explicit sexuality, drug use, graphic violence and disturbing images.
In English and Spanish with subtitles.
Running time: 86 minutes
Distributor: THINKFilm

To see the trailer for Stuck, visit: http://youtube.com/watch?v=EeqPvj8ozqM

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