Welcome to Holiday Reads!

StuckIn honor of the holidays, Ball State English brings you Holiday Reads, a series of recommended books (or in this case–films!) from #bsuenglish students and faculty.

For our first installment, senior literature major Rachel Crawley recommends the film Stuck Between Stations, directed by Brady Kiernan.

Tell us about this film, Rachel.

I spent this past summer re-reading the Harry Potter series and moving every single thing out of the house my family has lived in for twenty-one years. (I also drank as much iced coffee as possible, but that’s a given for any summer.) While I definitely recommend that everyone revisit Hogwarts every now and then and also that you think very long and hard before buying anything new because one day you will have to put it in a box and carry it to a new location, I mostly recommend watching films that feel like summer nights. Summer nights are inherently perfect, and corresponding films are appropriate year-round.

Stuck Between Stations (2011, dir. Brady Kiernan) follows two former-high-school acquaintances as they make their way around Minneapolis one night. It’s a walk-and-talk—ninety minutes of character development with not a lot of action. Rebecca (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Casper (Sam Rosen) visit a few different locations (a couple of bars, an awkward party, an all-night grocery store), but nothing really happens. Despite this, the film doesn’t drag.

The cinematography and sound keep us engaged, reflecting what’s happening with the characters. We get a lot of shots of Minneapolis; Rebecca and Casper are occasionally shown in split-screen; and ambient sounds of the nocturnal city are ever-present. We’re spending the night with these two characters—we care about them the most—yet the film constantly reminds us that they’re just two people. They’re two people forging a meaningful connection over the course of one weird, coincidental night, but they’re still just two people living lives in the real world. We’re grounded in their relationship, but we’re also constantly aware of the bigger picture and bigger sound of Minneapolis.

There’s something about late summer nights that just feels unreal. Warmth without the presence of sunlight has this intoxicating forbiddenness that can make it feel like anything’s possible. These two characters both have difficulties maintaining relationships in their separate lives. Rebecca doesn’t have friends so much as acquaintances, and the friends Casper does have are quick to point out that they never see him. Even with each other, Rebecca insists throughout the film that this isn’t a date, and it takes until the end of the night for Casper to really realize Rebecca’s humanness—to not see her as just this mysterious ideal from high school. They trade stories and connect through their experiences of trauma and seeming lack of PTSD (trigger warning for mild discussions of rape and military combat), and maybe after the night ends they can take what they learned in the time of the film and use it to better themselves outside of it.

Stuck Between Stations isn’t breaking any barriers, but it isn’t the standard romance, either. There is no kiss. There is no “happily ever after.” There’s a surreal adventure in the middle of the night with a very blurry beginning and end. It’s nice to fall into something quiet and character-driven sometimes and slip out just as easily—maybe a little more contemplative than when you began.

Stuck Between Stations. Dir. Brady Kiernan. Perf. Zoe Lister-Jones, Sam Rosen. RKB Pictures, 2011. DVD.

Thanks for the recommendation, Rachel!

Stay tuned over the next week for more installments in our Holiday Reads series.

Have a book recommendation? Let us know!