TriBeca 2011: ‘Stuck Between Stations’ Gives Minneapolis A Voice

Stuck Between StatioonsThe story isn’t all that unexpected. We meet a girl and boy, both all grown up, both from different ends of the school days popularity spectrum. Through extreme serendipity, they end up in the same Minneapolis bar on the same Minneapolis night and they get into some Minneapolis trouble. Of course this fosters a connection between the two unlikely friends. The spill secrets, fears, deep-rooted psychological issues and a little hamfisted bout of political theory laced with the caveat of marijuana use. But in between all that enjoyable, but not so revolutionary action is something delightful and slightly unexpected. Stuck Between Stations gives Minneapolis a unique voice, freeing it from Midwestern stereotypes and allowing it to be an active setting for a story that is usually reserved for cosmopolitan meccas like New York or Paris.

The story runs like a more mature, realistic version of the faux-indie flick, Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, but with less music business glitz, fewer hormones, and the addition of some real-life problems. However, like in Nick and Nora, the city plays a role in the action. We find a Minneapolis that isn’t just home to “dontcha know,” The Vikings, cheese curds and frigid weather. We find a city that has a vibrant night life, both underground and on the surface. We find a city that breeds intellectuals – like Rebecca; a city that is home to artists – like Casper’s father; and as a whole a city that plays host to folks who are more complicated than our stereotypes allow us to think.

Sure, we encounter the folks who never moved on from high school. They’re still sipping gin and juice at house parties and selling weed in Ziplock baggies. We see the set that’s graduated to the indie scene, calling soldiers pigs and spending their free hours downing PBRs at underground circuses (this scene comes courtesy of a Josh Hartnett cameo). There are the well-educated college professors who get into just as much “sophisticated” trouble as their counterparts at Columbia and NYU. There are artists who’ve seen the whole world, learned about tiny African tribes and seen life we didn’t know existed. Essentially, we have a full city that despite its geography and reputation, is decidedly urban. It’s simultaneously a typical hometown and a metropolis. It’s contradictory, yet rich, much like the pair of characters who traverse its post-midnight landscape.

Admittedly, this story the film relies on is not inherently Minnesotan. You could move it to Portland, Austin, Denver, or any of the more expected metropolises with very few changes to the script itself. However, the nature of the story and the choices the filmmakers made emphasize those elements of the Minneapolis backdrop and in turn, the story feeds off of the city. It’s not a perfect depiction, but it’s enough to bring the city to life, even when many of its inhabitants are asleep through much of the wee-hour action.