Bathroom Stalls & Parking Lots, co-written, directed by, and starring Thales Corrêa, is a new Brazilian-American party movie that hopes to address timely LGBTQ themes but ends up feeling too superficial to work. There are a few good moments throughout the film, but those are too few and far between to make much of an impact.
The movie follows a Brazilian immigrant living in San Francisco who sets out on a night at the clubs with his friends, hoping that he can find and pursue an American fling he met on a dating app. Although this premise sets up an interesting “one crazy night” plot, the film is ultimately too repetitive to be particularly entertaining, much less be effective in providing commentary.
Perhaps the biggest issue with the movie is that the interactions between the characters all feel the same. After the first few scenes, one will realize that they have already gotten the gist of the film, as it is mostly comprised of the characters finding themselves in awkward situations and learning something as a result. This soon gets old (and even potentially headache-inducing), especially if you are not too keen on party culture.
The filmmakers obviously have something to say about dating culture, particularly in relation to the LGBTQ community, but there is simply too much partying for the movie to deliver this message in a way that feels important or insightful. The overwhelming nature of the party scenes frequently distracts from the earnest message which lies below the surface, and as a result, the film feels both annoying and shallow.
The cinematography in the party scenes is also frustrating. Although the shots taking place as the characters walk the streets are mostly smooth, it becomes significantly more hectic when things move inside. Granted, shooting a club scene is difficult because there is so much going on, but Corrêa simply couldn’t handle it. Additionally, the subtitles are distractingly moved around the screen, rather than being placed in the standard lower center third.
Another reason why the movie isn’t particularly successful is that the characters are not well-developed enough to work. We sympathize with the protagonist, Leo, because of his romantic quest, but his two friends are not particularly compelling. The only glimpses we get into their personalities come through the friendship (which is minimal) or through forced expositional dialogue about their past.
That said, the actors do a solid job in their roles. The dynamic between Leo and Donnie, played by Corrêa and Izzy Palazzini (who also co-wrote the film) is great because of the excellent chemistry they have together. Their delivery can be a bit stilted at times, but for the most part, their emotion comes off as honest and real.
There was quite a bit of potential in Bathroom Stalls & Parking Lots, but unfortunately, that potential did not result to anything particularly entertaining or rewarding. Sadly, this is just another party that will be forgotten, much like any other night when one parties a bit too hard.
Bathroom Stalls & Parking Lots hits VOD on September 10.