×

Expired

Story told in this California-set indie should resonate with anyone who has ever had an abusive partner.

With:
With: Samantha Morton, Jason Patric, Teri Garr, Illeana Douglas.

The need for change — and not just the kind necessary to plug parking meters — fuels the plot of helmer Cecilia Miniucchi’s offbeat feature debut, “Expired.” An occasionally cringe-inducing mix of pathos and humor, the tightly scripted, well-acted and notably art-directed tale follows a lonely, vulnerable meter maid who falls into a comically horrific relationship with a colleague incapable of emotional intimacy. The story told in this Southern California-set indie should resonate with anyone who has ever had an abusive partner, but its idiosyncratic tone renders it arthouse fare. A seething perf by Jason Patric should assure cult status on DVD.

While the milieu of traffic law enforcement officials, perhaps America’s most reviled public servants, may seen inherently funny, those expecting lots of easy laughs will be disappointed. The underlying theme here is the price we pay for love, and most of the humor is of the painfully human sort, deriving from a cathartic and compassionate acknowledgement of hurtful moments.

Pic unfolds from the p.o.v. of gentle, clumsy Claire (Samantha Morton), a kind soul who’s willing, if asked nicely, to overlook a motorist lingering in a loading zone, and to help a mother juggling baby and groceries to load her car. Not so her opposite number, Jay (Patric), a verbally and physically abusive loner who writes an average of 45 tickets a day, but whose aggression puts him on notice with his superiors.

As Christmas approaches, Jay makes a play (albeit an unflattering one) for Claire, who is wistfully conscious that her life hasn’t changed since she was dumped by her boyfriend six years ago. Over a series of humorously awkward meals, foul-mouthed Jay, a master of mixed messages, alternately insults and caresses Claire. She, lacking confidence, stressed at home and believing that something might be better than nothing, never protests the maltreatment.

When Claire’s stroke-afflicted mother (Teri Garr, who does hilarious double duty as Claire’s crazy Aunt Tilde), expires while mashing potatoes on Christmas Eve, she is left even more emotionally dependent on prickly Jay’s erratic attentions.

Pic’s lesson that “Sometimes in life you meet an asshole and you need to know when it’s time to move on” proves knowledge hard won by the meek heroine, but Miniucchi’s elegantly constructed screenplay satisfyingly charts Claire’s transformation from doormat to defiant.

Portraying the epitome of jerkishness, Patric gets the best dialogue, fluidly delivering wounding remarks, sour observations, and caustic exit lines (“I’ll probably call you”). His graceless behavior also elicits the most laughs, particularly in the scenes where he partakes of Internet porn.

The pic’s cool, blue-toned visuals further strengthen the sense of the characters’ diametrically opposed temperaments, at the same time flattering the thesps’ cerulean eyes. A floral motif is cleverly woven through plot, decors and costume.

Expired

Production: An Aga Films, FR Prods. presentation of a Jeffrey Coulter production. (International sales: GreeneStreet Films Intl., New York). Produced by Jeffrey Coulter and Fred Roos. Executive producers, Antoni Stutz, Alexander Shing, Lawrence Wang. Co-executive producers, Holley Heitz, Jason Rose. Co-producer, Melitta Fitzer. Directed, written by Cecilia Miniucchi.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen 35mm), Zoran Popovic; editors, Anne Gorsaud, Fritz Feick; music, Jeffrey Coulter; production designer, Natalie Sanfilippo; art director, Celine Diano; costume designer, Swinda Reichelt; sound (Dolby Digital), Karl Lohninger; associate producers, David Fratto, Michael W. Abbott; assistant director, T.K. Shom; casting, John Jackson. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Critics' Week, closer), May 24, 2007. Running time: 104 MIN.

With: With: Samantha Morton, Jason Patric, Teri Garr, Illeana Douglas.

More Film

  • Themba Ntuli and Ashley Lazarus

    Ashley Lazarus, Director of Apartheid-Era Cult Classic, Returns to Screen

    DURBAN–Director Ashley Lazarus, whose film about the interracial friendship between two young boys during the apartheid era became a South African cult classic in the 1970s, is set to return to the big screen with a film that builds on his life-long passion for early-childhood education. “Teacher Wanted” is the inspirational story of a teacher [...]

  • Channing Tatum

    Channing Tatum's Free Association Partners With Atwater Capital for Film Development Fund

    Free Association, a production company led by Channing Tatum, Peter Kiernan and Reid Carolin, has entered into a film development fund with Atwater Capital. The four-year $2 million revolving fund stipulates that Atwater will finance a minimum of five films with Free Association. Michael Parets, VP of production, will oversee the deal. Free Association will [...]

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

    Box Office: Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Takes on 'Lion King'

    Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” will have to take on much more than a changing showbiz landscape. This weekend, the washed-up actor and his majordomo are battling Disney’s juggernaut “The Lion King” at the domestic box office. Tarantino’s R-rated auteur [...]

  • Margot Robbie Once Upon a Time

    Margot Robbie Says 'Barbie' Movie Will Put 'Positivity' Into the World

    Over the last 10 years, Margot Robbie has stepped into the skates of Tonya Harding, taken up the mantle of Harley Quinn and, next up, she’s playing the world’s most famous doll, Barbie. The live-action film is due out in 2020 and set to be written by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, while Robbie serves [...]

  • 2018 NALIP Gala

    National Association of Latino Independent Producers Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary

    Ben Lopez has seen the future of the entertainment industry, and says it is the Latinx community. “In the next 20 years, we’re going to be prioritized — because not only will we have the numbers demographic-wise, we’ll have the spending power,” says Lopez, the executive director of the National Assn. of Latino Independent Producers, [...]

  • 'Patrick Melrose' TV show premiere

    Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy to Star in 'Louis Wain'

    Benedict Cumberbatch (“Avengers: Endgame”) and Claire Foy (“The Crown”) are set to star in “Louis Wain,” a biopic of the prolific English artist who rose to prominence at the end of the 19th century. “Louis Wain” will start shooting on Aug. 10 with BAFTA-nominated Will Sharpe (“Flowers”) directing the film, which was written by Sharpe [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content