When was the last time you and a random stranger confided your deepest secrets in each other while breaking bread in the later hours of the evening? It may happen to some in real life, but more often it’s a scenario custom-tailored for the movies, and it happens to be the basic setup for In Transit.
Two people meet by chance at an airport restaurant, each with a remarkably similar backstory, and after pouring out their hearts to one another, each goes his and her own way with a new outlook on life.
In Transit makes use of a minimalist setup, and it’s an extremely ambitious undertaking. But what it adds up to is around 73 minutes of two people speaking to each other, with the barest possible set, and only a handful of cutaways to help illustrate the story. Needless to say, it takes terrific actors, a savvy director, and an extraordinary script to make this kind of thing work — My Dinner with Andre comes to mind. I know, that comparison is setting the bar awfully high, but bear with me on this.
In Transit is a much, much smaller-scale production than the aforementioned Louis Malle film, and watching it makes us thoroughly aware of just how miraculous it is when a director is able to transform what is essentially a stage play into a vital cinematic statement.
“Two people meet by chance…and after pouring out their hearts to one another, each goes…with a new outlook on life.”
The setup for In Transit is a story of strangers temporarily grounded in a desolate terminal. Olga (Branca Ferrazo), who wandered into this unassuming bistro for air travelers, has some awkward conversation with Daniel (Oliver Rayon), the only other patron in the joint. Soon, he joins her at her table and each begins to recount his and her story.
There’s a lot of talking and virtually no action, save for the short flashbacks. The dialogue is functional, but lacking the kind of finely calibrated wit or pathos that can keep audiences interested for more than an hour.
As the details of the two main characters’ lives begin to spill out, we’re faced with a pair of stories that are too similar to be believed. Is one of them pulling a con job on the other? Nope, that’s a blind alley. Yet the manner in which both astoundingly tragic stories are revealed lacks the drama that we’d expect from such an encounter.
I kept waiting for some sort of scintillating twist that would justify the film’s slow submersion into this pot of otherwise humdrum banter, but none came. One major revelation in Daniel’s backstory comes from an unlikely source, and the way it’s delivered is a bit difficult to swallow.
“…lives begin to spill out…with a pair of stories too similar to be believed…”
Even when we learn that Daniel had a horrific, life-changing experience not so long ago, the recounting of it rings hollow. He’s not the haunted sort of man one would expect him to be. Is he a psychopath? Nothing that intriguing comes to the surface. It’s finally revealed that he’s in trouble with the law, and given the circumstance that’s no wonder, but he seems able to skate away from it with surprising ease.
In all, the film has rough edges, but In Transit at its core offers an interesting premise, at least. The actors give it their all, and that enthusiasm comes through. But the script needs to be tighter, the direction and cinematography more disciplined. That might have helped it coalesce into a more engaging piece of work.
In Transit (2018) Directed by Julia Camara. Written by Julia Camara. Starring Oliver Rayon, Kim Burns, Al Danuzio, Karina Frederico, Branca Ferrazo, Eve Weston, Emilia Aldridge.
4 out of 10 Bags of Airline Peanuts