Frank V. Ross’s Latest, Audrey the Trainwreck, Has No Character Named ‘Audrey’ and No Trainwreck


Frank V. Ross makes no-budget, impeccably acted, dryly funny, and unpretentiously melancholic movies about the tiny gray area between happiness and misery, and the frustrations of the suburban working-class. In his latest, Audrey the Trainwreck, there is no character named Audrey, and nothing as histrionic as a trainwreck. Ross offers up two dumb fluke accidents, both nuisances that cause no lasting damage other than to derail a day, and then tells us the movie’s subtitle: These Things Happen in Threes. The joke set up, the rest of the film is a textured talkfest to the punchline, tracking the extremely tentative courtship of Bluetooth headset–wearing middle manager Ron (Anthony Baker) and pretty, lonely messenger Stacy (Alexi Wasser). More formally controlled than Ross’s previous efforts (the best of which, Present Company, premiered at SXSW in 2008; none have seen significant theatrical release), Audrey finds a moody counterpoint to cinematographer David Lowery’s suitably loose shooting style in John Medeski’s jazz score. As is often the case in a Ross film, Audrey slowly builds to a minor revelation that feels huge within Ross’s perfectly calibrated context. “Everything’s fine. Everything’s always just fine,” Ron realizes, after a night of drinking. “That’s what sucks.” And when that third little nuisance finally comes along, its novelty delivers a big catharsis.