By: Jessica Goddard
When you first hear the plot of Wexford Plaza, you think you’ve probably seen this movie before or know exactly what its angle will be. But you haven’t, and you don’t. This 80-minute-long film has everything: humour, relatability, great pacing, precise and controlled energy, and a thoughtful commentary on the reality of our times.
Based in Scarborough, Wexford Plaza is a strip mall nearing dilapidation, with only about half of the retail spaces available being used. The movie begins when Betty (Reid Asselstine), a nineteen-year-old without much else going on, gets hired to be part of a small overnight security team that patrols the plaza. The generally inattentive security team tends to pass the time with Danny (Darrel Gamotin), a bartender at a struggling restaurant in the strip mall. When Betty meets Danny, she’s instantly attracted to him. A few messy (mostly drunk) encounters make things complicated and confusing for both of them, and affect their modest lives in ways that almost hurt to watch.
Toronto native Joyce Wong wrote and directed Wexford Plaza, and it’s downright shocking that this is her first feature film. Based on how neatly cohesive and coherent the writing, style, and direction are, it’s obvious Wong is a major talent worth watching out for in the future. One of the very best things about the way Wong’s movie is constructed is that right as you think you have it figured it out, its clever screenplay proves you wrong. This is a deeply human story, brought to life by two actors with such a talent for communicative subtlety, you feel every moment they’re going through – for better or worse.
Wexford Plaza is current and young and perfectly captures the zeitgeist of a generation of disillusioned suburbanites, while somehow managing to be timeless and placeless and universal.
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Jessica Goddard: @TheJGod