SLIFF 2015 Review : FOUR WAY STOP – We Are Movie Geeks



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Nationwide news media seems to be filled with tales of urban violence (for those living in the larger cities, these stories can fill the first third of local newscast). How do these neighborhoods become powderkegs waiting to ignite and explode? Is it from tensions and frustrations simmering to a boil just under the surface of society? That’s the question posed by the new drama FOUR WAY STOP. The film’s focus is 17 year-old Allen (Paul Craig), who is going through the interview section of another fruitless job search. He’s got a part job at a corner snack shack, but his tardiness and absences (looking for a better gig) has raised the ire of his unsympathetic boss. Things aren’t that great at home since his folks split quite a while ago. His sickly mother (Mary K Casey) needs his wages to support them and her new live-in beau (of course this bully constantly clashes with him). Several blocks away is Allen’s drug-addled dad (Jaan Marion) who repeats tales of his former glory days while also hitting up his boy for cash. Well, Allen’s old childhood pal Tay (Jason J Little) can offer him some work, but it’s not really, you know, legal. But Allen’s determined to resist that route even as every door slams in his face while his anger builds until…

Director Efi Da Silva inspires terrific performances from this energetic cast. Particularly memorable is Marion as he rambles and rants about the better times while resisting the urge to collapse after his latest bender. There’s also very effective use of St. Louis locations, best showcased in an early sequence of Allen and Tay racing down the gritty blocks, lit by rows of street lamps under twilight and darkness. There are scenes that crackle with tension as Allen keeps butting heads with uncaring employers and their staff. FOUR WAY STOP is an unflinching, raw tale of tough times on the still very mean streets.

FOUR WAY STOP screens at Webster University’s Winifred Moore Auditorium on Sunday, November 15 at 1PM as part of the 24th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival. Purchase tickets here



Jim Batts was a contestant on the movie edition of TV's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" in 2009 and has been a member of the St. Louis Film Critics organization since 2013.