The strip mall setting matches director Joyce Wong’s sad and sympathetic comedy of two low paid workers. There seems to be little hope for both the shops and Wong’s characters. Betty is the newly hired security guard and Danny serves in the pub. The pub there is closing. The strip mall is described by the security patrolling the premises as a shit hole. Losers hide there with their girlfriends for blow jobs. The place is filthy and the only big outstanding thing there is the huge garbage dumpster.
The story is told in two chapters, Chapter One called Betty and Two called Danny. Instead of intercutting the stories, Wong unfolds them sequentially, Betty’s story first. As the two stories concern the two characters in the same period of time, there are intersecting identical segments that are repeated. (I thought the film had rewound to the start when one of these were repeated.). The repeated segments include both Betty and Danny going for a smoke and a make-up sales session.
Both stories are equally Interesting. The decision to keep the two stories separate allows each story to flow smoothly without distraction.
Betty is depicted as a lonely girl. She is a little on the heavy side but is pretty with a good size of breasts as she is proud to both admit and reveal to Danny. She is desperate for a boyfriend as well as company. Her other two male security guard colleagues join her for the occasional drink but they are assholes, as she slowly discovers. She has an encounter with Danny a night when he is drunk. She has hopes for maybe him as a boyfriend.
The story switches to Danny . It is revealed that he is living with a girl, a steady but Wong never reveals whether they are married. They very well could be as she complains of wanting a bigger apartment. It is clear that Danny loves her. When Danny is laid off from his job, he keeps the fact from her. He becomes the Avon Lady but has not much luck in direct sales mainly because he knows nothing about cosmetics. A sad story. When his girl finds out three weeks later about his job loss, she is furious.
Wong’ s characters are likeable. She even shows a few redeeming qualities of Betty’s security colleagues. But her film is too scarce in characters. There are 5 people in total. Nothing is known of Betty’s family. Her character is not that unlikable that she has no friends. The same can be said for Danny. His boss is only shown for a fleeting moment.
WEXFORD PLAZA is produced by a friend of mine, Harry Cherniak. This is his first full length feature, after producing a string of excellent shorts. Congratulations to him on his interesting and well made first movie. The film has been nominated by the Toronto Film Critics Association for the Best Canadian Film.