Hard-to-Watch 'Stuck' Is Equally Hard to Shake

A key character speaks prophetic words in "Stuck," a disturbing tale of an unintentional crime that becomes unspeakable: "Anybody can do anything to anyone and get away with it."

Mirroring a news story of a driver who hit a pedestrian and drove with the battered body on the hood of the car, "Stuck" raises compelling questions about morality and ethics and how far people will go to avoid reprisal.

Brandi (Mena Suvari) initially comes across as a sweet and compassionate nurse's assistant, excited because she is in line for a promotion. After a night of too many drinks and a tablet of Ecstasy, Brandi gets behind the wheel of her car, drives erratically and hits what appears to be a homeless man (Stephen Rea) pushing a shopping cart. Meanwhile, we have learned that the man, Tom, is a recently unemployed project manager and had just embarked on a downward spiral of bad luck that grows even more dismal when he and Brandi's car collide.

Tom crashes through her windshield and is stuck, pinned halfway in her front seat, his body resting on the hood of her car. Initially, Brandi considers doing the right thing and taking him to the hospital, but she panics and drives him home. Once there, she leaves him to die in her locked garage.

But Tom's survival instinct clashes with her growing sense of desperation. She does all she can to cover things up, to little avail, fearing she will spend her life in prison.

The tone is one of horror and dark, low comedy. Many of the visuals are starkly grisly and disgusting. But the powerful film raises thought-provoking questions.

Both Suvari and Rea give strong, believable performances, as do Russell Hornsby, who plays Brandi's thuggish boyfriend, and Rukiya Bernard, who plays her co-worker.

The over-the-top tale becomes a tense and unsettling duel. This is not enjoyable entertainment, but it is brutally watchable. Writer/director Stuart Gordon seeks to expose our uncaring, self-absorbed society and also the unflagging will to live.

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