We love cinema that makes us laugh, cry, or squirm with discomfort. And when a film accomplishes all three, as does <i>Expired</i>—on the pure strength of smart writing and excellent performances—it's a small miracle. <i>Expired</i> is the story of Claire, an unimposing, sweet-tempered meter maid whose sheltered existence with her stroke-afflicted mother is jolted when she meets Jay, a troubled fellow parking officer. As Claire tentatively emerges from her shell and emotionally stunted Jay jumps in with gusto, their love affair becomes an awkward and sometimes-hilarious dance of antagonism and attraction, and she must decide whether to engage or pull away.
Samantha Morton and Jason Patric bring naturalism and gentle irony to characters who, when confronted with the possibility of closeness and sex, attempt to overcome paralyzing fear in completely disparate ways. Cecilia Miniucchi and her actors never shrink from Claire and Jay's raw or inelegant moments, nor do they stray from tracing the subtle evolution of a relationship variously shaded with perversity, generosity, misunderstanding, and tenderness. Mining the comedy and pathos inherent in the foibles of damaged characters, as well as the excruciating qualities of love, <i>Expired</i> offers searing insight into the complex mechanisms that obstruct human intimacy.