Pit Stop: Sundance Review

Melancholy drama focuses more on lost love than what's next.

Two gay men nursing broken hearts eventually find each other in a small Texas town, in director Yen Tan's drama.

PARK CITY — A story of predestined romance that's so invested in the loneliness of its leads it feels like an afterthought when they finally meet, Yen Tan's Pit Stop offers an abundance of sympathy for gay men living in small-town Texas but not a lot more.

Bill Heck plays Gabe, broken-hearted after an affair with a married man ended badly. He's still a fixture at the home of ex-wife Shannon (Amy Seimetz), helping raise their daughter; neither seems thrilled about activity in the other's love life, but they try to be supportive. Across town, Ernesto (Marcus DeAnda) has broken up with a younger man, Luis (Alfredo Maduro) but offered to let him stay in the house for a while until he can get his back-to-school plans finalized.

The screenplay, by Tan and David Lowery, likes these uneasy suspended-animation domestic arrangements, and likes making us guess about the agreements behind them. But their vagueness adds little to the film, only delaying the sympathy we feel for Ernie, clearly aching as he allows his lover to pursue a better life, or for Shannon, aching over ... what, exactly? We never hear just how she learned that her husband was gay, or how they made peace with each other.

Full of long, quiet scenes and drab interiors, the film brightens up slightly when someone has a date, though those tend to go poorly. Unlike some other dramas about strangers meant to be with each other, Pit Stop hardly makes Ernesto and Gabe seem made for each other. We don't know either man well enough to know what kind of relationship he wants, and as far as we know they have nothing in common other than patronizing the same gas station.

Cast: Bill Heck, Marcus DeAnda, Amy Seimetz, John Merriman, Alfredo Maduro, Corby Sullivan
Director: Yen Tan
Screenwriter: David Lowery, Yen Tan
Producers: Jonathan Duffy, James M. Johnston, Eric Steele, Kelly Williams
Executive producers: Bala Shagrithaya
Director of photography: Hutch
Production designer: Scott Colquitt
Music: Curtis Heath
Editor: Don Swaynos

Sales: Preferred Content

No rating, 80 minutes