“PIT STOP”— Starting Over

pit stop

“Pit Stop”

Starting Over

Amos Lassen

Two gay men in Texas do not actually meet each other until the end of the film begin to move toward each other because of mutual need. They share similar circumstances—living with a partner after a relationship has ended.

Gabe (Bill Heck) is a construction worker who lives with his ex-wife Shannon (Amy Seimetz) for the sake of their six-year old daughter. Ernesto (Marcus DeAnda) is a forklift operator who lives with Luis (Alfredo Maduro), his ex-lover who wants to get out of the small town where they live and it really bothers Ernesto that Luis is taking so long to leave.

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Shannon is actually seeing another guy and Ernesto finally is able to push Luis out of the house and we realize that these two men are not yet over the feelings they shared. Ernesto is a good man who visits another ex in the hospital and in a come because of an automobile accident.

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This is a modern story about love in small-town America where gay men live in the closet. These two men find themselves at the crossroads of their lives and the director, Yen Tan, handles this so beautifully that I found it difficult to watch with dry eyes. There were times that it was necessary to think about my own life in terms of what I was watching on the screen. The characters propel the film and they do so with great acting and style. This is a quiet, seductive film that is set in small confining places which really wonderfully suggest the confinement of the characters. The theme of trying to find happiness is, of course, not new and here Ernesto and Gabe are well aware of how society confines us just as do small places. Gabe gains solace by being a good father to his daughter and by being a good friend to his ex-wife. Ernesto is drifting after his latest relationship ended and a former lover is in a coma. Shannon is looking to find someone to replace Gabe but has no idea how to go about finding it. Each character has hope and each faces difficulties.

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This is an emotional film and the emotions we feel are natural. The actors are able to show their humanity without judgment and this could have sunk into melodrama if not handled well. Heck as Gabe is totally brilliant and he shows us the small details of his life—his voice breaks when speaking on the phone to his ex and we feel his sense of excitement about Ernesto. The entire cast amplifies basic human emotions with all of their nuances.

Tan and David Lowery wrote the screenplay and it is evident that they wanted the characters to be a way to see social commentary. We do not see the characters as they interact in large scenes with lots of people and we do see where they go after all is said and done ad while we may have wanted more this is the way it was meant to go. It is so interesting to see how these men still feel about their ex-lovers and even though they are physically very close, we sense a distance that is caused by their own personal obligations. The small Texas town setting shows us a place that is distant from the world around it and has just not been able to catch up to the larger world. The fact that there is a lot of silence in the film shows us that leaving something unsaid can say more than actual voices.

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When Gabe and Ernesto comes together we become very aware that they share their sexualities, their discretions, their similar occupations and even their shared zip codes. Then we learn that there is something else they share—Luis is in the process of ending a relationship with his live-in lover, Luis, and Gabe is also dealing with a marriage that is over. What we see is a world of hidden pain for both men; neither can just get up and walk away from their situations.

Gabe certainly has a peculiar situation in that he finds it comfortable to live with his ex-wife and in this way no one can suspect that he is gay or say that he is not providing for his family. We all know how hard it is to find love and we are reminded of this both with Gabe and Ernesto and with Shannon and her new man, Winston. Ernesto comes across as very reserved as he deals both with his Luis and his paralyzed ex.

The script shows us everyday life in a small rural town and this is contrasted to the complex relationships of the characters. The sense of loneliness is fell throughout the film and it is this sense of being alone that makes us realize that many times what we are looking for is right there in front of us.

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