Detroit Unleaded: movie review

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Working behind bulletproof glass in an inherited gas station (the same one where his father was shot), Lebanese-American Sami (E. J. Assi) is a dreamer whose job is a prison. Rola Nashef’s ode to the immigrant experience uses keen details—as well as wise cues from Clerks and Do the Right Thing in its treatment of retail and race—to trump the typical yarn of second-generation citizens aching for the U.S. promise of “more.” It winningly pays homage to the apparently nationwide fraternity of Arab-American mini-mart owners, while letting the Motor City setting provide the economic commentary. A quasi-fairy-tale ending suggests the director and cowriter was content with shrugging her shoulders when it came to tying things up, but the knee-jerky close can’t spoil the film’s vibrant cultural and environmental specificity.

Follow R. Kurt Osenlund on Twitter: @AddisonDeTwitt

Release details

Duration: 93 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Rola Nashef
Cast: E.J. Assi
Nada Shouhayib
Mike Batayeh
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