Stationary (2020)

It is night, and Jimmy (Aaron Thomas Ward) is carefully cleaning the car parked in the street (an activity suggestive of his own ‘clean’ status), and watching the estate beyond. If this looks like some kind of stakeout, a cut to the following day, and to a pile of cigarette butts discarded in the road from the driver’s open window, would appear to confirm this suspicion. Yet in the short film Stationary, written and directed by Louis Chan (Pastiche, 2014), Jimmy is neither policeman nor detective, even if he does have his eye on a pair of criminals from hs old stamping ground – and the title refers not just to his vehicle, stuck in its spot, but to the lives of three characters who are all to different degrees arrested (in once case literally). 

Jimmy is now in the car, having a reunion with his ex Che (Rebekah Brookes-Murrell) and her little brother Gino (Xavien Russell) after leaving four years earlier. Gino aspires to go to university, whereas Che, who was lured into the drug business by Jimmy back in the day, wants Gino to keep dealing drugs for her. Meanwhile Jimmy, who years ago was given a lucky break when caught by the police, hopes to see Gino get out too. And so these three characters, parked between staying behind and driving on, between a fixed past and the possibility of a different future, must negotiate their way out of the rut, paying it backwards or forwards.

Most of the drama unfolds within the car’s interior, with DP Samira Oberberg using lots of handheld tight shots to mirror the prison where Jimmy experienced his momentous turnaround, and the trap in which both Che and Gino have become stuck – unless they too can decide to change. 

© Anton Bitel