LAAPFF Review: ‘Staycation’ (2018), dir. Tanuj Chopra
Staycation opens on a handjob. Or was it a blowjob? Rest assured that it probably doesn’t matter which it was, since by the end of the film millenial couple Luke (Anthony Ma) and Peggy (Grace Su) do so many lewd acts with one another that it’s hard to keep track (the best of which is their Blair Witch Project porn parody). Staycation is all about the two of them having fun, but the film doesn’t limit itself to just sex. We follow them throughout their day as they order phone takeout, use the bathroom, walk around downtown LA, and get lit.
Story-wise, Staycation isn’t very strong. It mostly follows a day in the life of this couple, whose vulgar ways of having fun take up a majority of the runtime. Save the interesting spinning camera movements and obvious lack of breaking the fourth wall, Staycation could very well act as a funny R-rated vlog. But dig a little deeper and there might be something still.
While Luke and Peggy’s relationship seems to be rock-solid (after all, what troubled couple has that much sex in a day?), there’s a sense of emptiness between the two of them. Physical pleasure can only do so much—there has to be a mental connection as well. Once Luke finds a dick pic (that’s not his) on Peggy’s phone, doubt starts to grow in his mind until it reaches a breaking point in the end. Peggy feels Luke starts to slip away, but can’t do much about it despite her best efforts. By the end of the 61 minute film there’s a sense that that couple at the beginning has completely ceased to exist. That’s what makes this film seem so special—director Tanuj Chopra lets you into the two lead characters’ heads and all of the swirling psychosis that they’re feeling. And all the while, he’s having a lot of fun doing it.
Staycation succeeds in portraying young, distrustful, and fleeting love with biting realness… and it’s a film that’s definitely not for the prudish.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Li-Wei Chu is a recent graduate from UC Davis who majored in Cinema and Digital Media who also briefly studied film at Queen Mary, University of London. Li-Wei is obsessed with horror films (especially the ones that give him nightmares), films from East Asia, and really, any film that makes you stop and think.
He loves talking about film and indie music with others. He’s also a record collector and cross-stitches when he has free time. In the future, he hopes to be able to write about film and wants to find a job in the film industry that can support his record buying habits. Maybe one day he’ll also be able to play the guitar.