Lonely 19-year-old Betty (Reid Asselstine) takes a job at a Security guard at a strip mall that has more stores shuttered then open. Here workplace poisoning boss Rich (Francis Melling) gives her the orientation tour advising her that she’s to check the ally behind the store on a regular basis. As part of the tour, she meets Danny (Darrel Gamotin) The bartender at the mall’s restaurant with very few patrons. After a couple of drunken encounters between the pair, Betty perceives wrongly that there is more between them leading her to pursue Danny hard.
Director Joyce Wong brings a story to the screen that is close to her heart. She is a native of the Toronto suburb of Scarborough where the action takes place. Wong wanted to focus on the underdog with her main characters and also with the Strip Mall format itself as today Walmart, Home Depot and Multiplexes anchor Big Box centres cutting out the mom and pop local feeling of the 70’s & 80’s staple shopping environment. Joyce tells the story in two non-linear halves. The first is entitled Betty as we meet her on her first day on the job, see a bit of her home life and get her encounters with Danny and the spaces in between from her point of view. Part two is focused on Danny we go right back to that first encounter then many beats are revised through Danny’s eyes.
Reid Asslestine is delightful as Betty. Due to her appearance and lack motivation her prospects aren’t great She active on a Tinder pseudonym Winder where guys want to meet her 10 minutes after a match. However, she’s equipped with a captivating smile and willing to give as good as she gets. Darrel Gamotin is effective as the friendly money strapped Danny. He has a live-in girlfriend that wants to move out of their basement apartment but he's in a low paying job struggling with 12k credit card debt.
Wexford Plaza is a bare bones tale of minimum wage workers that dwell on the fringes. They spend their times talking smoke and weed breaks drinking in suburban watering holes where bottle service and velvet ropes would never think to tread. Social media plays a prominent role in the piece and Wong flips back and forth between showing text messages up on screen or on the screen of the smart phone itself. It’s an engaging tale that delves deeper than expected making it a film I can recommend.
*** ½ Out of 4.
Wexford Plaza | Joyce Wong | Canada | 2016 | 80 Minutes.
Tags: Strip Mall, Security Guard, Bartender, Direct Sales, Karaoke, Basketball, YYZ.