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Aaron, a petty criminal from the wrong side of the tracks teams with his girlfriend's brother to rob a pawnshop. When the robbery goes south he barricades himself in a rest stop bathroom triggering a standoff with the police. As his reality slowly unstitches Aaron struggles to balance his unfaltering love for Laura with the inevitability of his situation. Featuring commanding performances from Aleksander Ristic, Angela Nordeng, and Marcus Johns, IN THIS GRAY PLACE is a memorable, beautiful story of a desperate man clashing with destiny.
This movie is not about a hold-up in a bathroom. This movie is about existential queries of life, love, destiny, and fate. And if you don't appreciate good poetry, you probably won't appreciate this film.
Operating on a bare-bones budget, Womack creates a beautiful, poetic, emotional, intimate film and executes it masterfully with the cinematography, directing, and editing. I found myself completely immersed into the main character's inner world and emotional turmoil. And if you pay attention and look closely enough, you will find an abundance of existential metaphors embedded within In This Gray Place.
There is a term in the therapy/counseling/psychology world called "holding the space". It means to remain fully and utterly present and giving all of your attention to the other person - without questions, without judgment, without any agendas or expectations. Holding the space is allowing someone to simply BE. It is allowing the person to experience whatever they may be going through internally without trying to guide them in any particular direction. Another term for it that I like to use - as a therapist myself - is "just sit with it".
Through this film, Womack allows the audience to experience this "holding of space" with Aaron Foster. We find ourselves sitting with his frustration, anguish, sorrow, panic, anger, and heartbreak. And at times it feels uncomfortable. But I think this is one of Womack's intentions with this film: to let the audience just sit with it - instead of rushing on to the next scene or another action sequence. And this, I believe, is what makes In This Gray Place a truly unique work of art.
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