There’s a sense of melancholy, which permeates almost every frame of Joyce Wong’s feature debut Wexford Plaza, giving the movie an added layer of nuance and depth, while exploring familiar terrain. She is careful in setting the location and crafting the characters, avoiding slapstick and obvious humor as the movie progresses.
We’ve seen many movies about people working at their boring jobs and on it’s surface Wexford Plaza is another one of those. Betty (Reid Asselstine) recently began working as a security guard in a strip mall. Each night, she is stationed in a tiny hut in the center of the parking lot, without having a whole lot to do. Not much happens besides the occasional teenage hookup in the back alley. She passes time trying to blend in with her other coworkers, who behave like children in a 20-something’s body.
“Wong nails the range of emotions that come with leaving your teenage years behind.”
Betty meets Danny (Darrell Gamotin) – a bartender in one of the strip mall’s establishments – and takes an immediate liking to him. Betty gives Danny a ride home one night when he is too intoxicated to drive and a flirtation turns confusing because Betty doesn’t really know much about Danny’s life and vice versa.
Wexford Plaza features a few supporting characters, who serve the role as court jesters and don’t really factor much into the overall trajectory of the film. The movie is a two-hander between Betty and Danny. Wong structures the film in two parts, first viewing the plot through Betty’s eyes, then shifting to Danny’s perspective. It’s an interesting way to play with the material and allow the viewers to see Betty and Danny as fully-realized characters and not just types.
“Asselstine and Gamotin bring their characters to life from Wong’s script, which helps make both characters feel real and relatable.”
Wong nails the range of emotions that come with leaving your teenage years behind. Responsibilities await you on the other side and your personal stakes and necessities are heightened. Wong’s careful writing mines the frustration and isolation, which can be associated with not knowing what comes next.
There’s an unexpected sweetness and sadness to Wexford Plaza. Asselstine and Gamotin bring their characters to life from Wong’s script, which helps make both characters feel real and relatable. The delicate balance that Wong strikes makes Wexford Plaza a film worth seeking out.
Wexford Plaza (2017) Directed by Joyce Wong. Written by Joyce Wong. Starring Reid Asselstine and Darrell Gamotin.