The Off Hours (SIFF 2011)

Francine works the night shift at a truckstop diner along a secluded highway in the Pacific Northwest. You can feel her isolation and melancholy as you watch her pour coffee, and when a new trucker appears at her counter, Francine’s attraction is almost tangible. Through brief conversations, we learn that she has been working at the diner for 12 years, and he had been a banker for 10 before losing his job. He became a trucker to get some perspective on life, and his comings and goings are a symbol of the freedom that Francine longs for, but she can’t quite overcome the inertia of her surroundings.

The few main characters in this film are painted with finely honed brushstrokes as the stark details of their lives are slowly revealed. A majority of the scenes take place in “the off hours”, and the muted tones and dark shadows perfectly reflect the characters struggles. The few bright daylight scenes feel as harsh and unforgiving to the viewer as they must feel to Francine, who is used to a more nocturnal existence. And in the night, when life runs more slowly, you can catch more being said with sidelong glances and subtle movements than would be achieved through spoken conversation. This is a slowly building movie that lets the audience watch the interactions of these damaged characters, but still maintains the feeling of a barrier being held up to prevent their emotions from spilling over and crushing them. They are each just trying to get by in their own ways.

I’m still not totally sure how I feel personally about this film. The character development and cinematography were great, and the directing was superb, I fully enjoyed the “nuts and bolts” of this film. But the content was definitely a bit depressing, a classic film festival movie if I ever saw one. It is worth a watch, but maybe have something uplifting planned for afterward!

Provided Film Synopsis
You're awake when everyone else is asleep. You're standing still as traffic is whipping by at 70mph. Your off hours are spent trying to figure out why you're here, whether you want to stay, and how to leave.

In THE OFF HOURS, Amy Seimetz alluringly commands the screen as Francine, a waitress whose liberation from her mundane existence is long overdue. In the restless world of the night shift at a highway diner, Francine's life consists of casual encounters and transient friendships. What she wants is out of reach — or is it that she's lost track of wanting anything at all? When a banker turned big-rig driver becomes a regular, he sparks hope in Francine. As change begins to invade the quiet diner, Francine is reminded that it is never too late to become the person she was meant to be.

Movie Details

  • Directed By:

    • Megan Griffiths
  • Cast Members:

    • Alycia Delmore
    • Amy Seimetz
    • Bret Roberts
    • Gergana Mellin
    • Lynn Shelton
    • Ross Partridge
    • Scoot McNairy
    • Tony Doupe
  • Countries:

    • USA
  • Languages:

    • English
  • Genres:

    • Drama