Gavin Heffernan is told by best pal Erin Simkin that she is pregnant, and that the child is his.Convinced that he hears destiny calling, Heffernan drives Simkin to Montreal for an evening out,intending to propose. He’s right about destiny being just around the corner, but it doesn’ttake the form he thought. Stopping in a convenience store to pick up some stomach medicine forSimkin, he gets caught by a robbery, and his engagement ring is stolen. So is a bag that belongsto Janet Lane… The bag is full of drugs, and if she doesn’t make the delivery, bad things willensue. Working from one small clue, Heffernan and Lane proceed to track down the robber,wending their way through the passing strange life of late-night Montreal. Meanwhile, Simkingets caught up in adventures of her own involving a prostitute and her teenaged daughter. Theapparently random events and coincidences inexorably lead to turning points in all the characterslives.
Made on a shoestring, but with style to burn, and by people who are too young to be alreadythis proficient at filmmaking (he said with no small degree of envy), Expiration’s tone isvery understated. This works very much in the film’s favour, lending the strange encounters aneven more odd, matter-of-fact patina, and giving the movie as a whole a dreamlike sensibility.The result is something that feels like a fable, and we don’t question the not-always-logicalactions of the characters. They do these things not because they would in real life, but becausethey would in a fairy tale, even one with domestic abuse and heroine. The performances,similarly restrained, are engaging and very natural, and even the smallest roles suggest a wholehistory behind the characters.
The soundtrack is crisp and clear, and Jon Day’s score comes through particularly well,conjuring unease and menace in a very spare, economical fashion. There is one major flaw withthe 2.0 track, however: the rear speakers pump out the same sounds as the front speakers, and atthe same volume. At first, I thought the surround mix was unusually powerful, and then thedialogue started coming at me from behind the couch. Best listened to with either the rearspeakers silenced or with headphones.
The aspect ratio is 1.85:1 and isn’t anamorphic. Blowing up the picture for 16×9 TVs thuswinds up accentuating the grain even more. And grain there is, but this isn’t the fault of thetransfer. The film was shot on video (let’s remember the budget, please), and the pictures hasall the limitations one might expect from that form. Still, within these limits, there are some verynice effects, and the climax atop a skyscraper is particularly effective.
Writer/director/star Gavin Heffernan’s commentary was recorded mere hours after the finalcut of the film was complete. Punch-drunk with fatigue, Heffernan throws himself into thecommentary, and takes a few minutes to find his stride. This he succeeds in doing, and his talkis illuminating and endearingly self-deprecating. There is a 13-minute behind-the-scenesfeaturette, which combines some of the promotional sort of interviews one is used to in this sortof feature, but also has lots of footage showing independent filmmaking underway. And there’sa trailer. The menu is scored, and uses dissolves as transitions.
A neat little film, made with care, and boding fine things for the future of all involved. Thesurround sound weirdness is a bit of a problem, but certainly doesn’t stand in the way of one’senjoyment of the film.
Special Features List
- Director Commentary
- Behind-the-Scenes Featurette