Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Safelight: Truck Stop Love
Charles might have a future in photography. Or maybe he will just continue
being miserable and feeling sorry for himself.
Frankly, there is no reason to care either way at any point during Tony
Aloupis’s exercise in small town misery titled Safelight (trailer
opens this Friday in New Jersey.
was physically born an underdog—and life has only gotten worse. His mother
absconded during his infancy, his supportive father is dying of cancer, and his
older brother was killed in Vietnam. The latter misfortune is all very sad, but
it is about the only sign post to alert us Safelight
is a 1970s period piece. When not walking barefoot to school for miles and
miles, uphill both ways, Charles works at the truck stop owned by the
tough-talking soft-hearted Peg. That is where he met Vicki. She also works at
the truck stop, but not for Peg, if you catch the drift.
fateful night Charles somehow manages to intercede while her pimp Skid is
beating her up. The term pimp might imply too much structure. Thug is probably
more accurate. Regardless, Charles broke the abusive mood, so Vicki is
grateful. In fact, they start ambiguously hanging. She even drives him about on
weekends so he can work on his entry for the school photography competition. He
is shooting the lighthouses of coastal California, which will be a surefire
winner if the contest is sponsored by a motel with empty walls.
conflict between Charles and Skid is inevitable (but maybe not with his pals, Skitter
and Collide). The poor kid is also probably in for all sorts of heartache
involving his Pa and the damaged on the inside Vicki. In fact, you can probably
diagram Safelight pretty accurately
without actually seeing it.
best things about Safelight are the
crafty veterans who make the best of problematic script. Christine Lahti is
always a breath of fresh air as Peg, while Jason Beghe gives the film the sort
of tragic heft and maturity it doesn’t really deserve. Beghe endured a stint in
the Church of Scientology and lived to tell Alex Gibney about it in Going Clear, so he should be able to
survive Safelight as well. As for the
youngsters, they obviously were not feeling it—and neither will viewers.
have to give Beghe credit for telling it straight, which is why it is a bummer
we can’t be more enthusiastic about his latest film. It just sort of sits there
on the screen in an utterly unexceptional kind of way. Not recommended (and
hardly remembered from two nights ago), Safelight
opens this Friday (7/17) at the AMC New Brunswick in New Jersey.
Labels: Jason Beghe