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By Merle Bertrand | May 22, 2002

“Falling in love will break your heart…” the soundtrack for “Kwik Stop” wails; an obvious case of foreshadowing if ever there was one. For proof, look no further than any one of the four principles in director Michæl Gilio’s oval-shaped road movie “Kwik Stop.” Mike (Gilio) makes a career out of leaving for Hollywood and commits petty crimes for fun and profit in the meantime. When Didi (Lara Phillips) catches him shoplifting in a local convenience store, hence the film’s title, she gleefully blackmails the slick back-haired bad boy into taking her with him. All of eighteen years old, she eventually finds herself pregnant and trapped in a nowhere town en route; an unwitting pawn in a love triangle along with Mike and his ex, Ruthie (Karin Anglin). She eventually winds up a prison inmate, thanks to a failed robbery of boozy barfly Emil’s (Rich Komenich) house.
Gilio’s film unfolds neatly as it tracks Didi’s journey, hangs around for a while at the apex as Didi gets hung up, then somewhat heavy-handedly retraces its steps in a sort of backstretch boomerang. Unfortunately, “Kwik Stop” follows the wrong two primary characters. Didi is so cloying and vacuous that she embarks on a cross country voyage with a complete stranger and doesn’t even so much as bring along date money. For his part, Mike is a tiresome loser whose good looks and charming smile will fail him someday…and not a moment too soon.
These two are boring cardboard cutouts. The interesting folks here are Ruthie, who actually shows some depth and intelligence, (except when it comes to men), and Emil, who wears his tortured sorrow from a previous loss on every inch of his expanding waistline.
By turns infuriating, charming, wistful and annoying, “Kwik Stop” winds up a touching, if frustrating film.

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