Gas, Food, and Lodging

Director: Allison Anders
Screenwriters: Allison Anders

Institute History


The term “women’s film” is often used as a pejorative by critics who seek to pigeonhole a film which focuses on specifically melodramatic themes or uses emotional elements to reach its audience. Unfortunately this attitude oftentimes results in treating stories which focus on women's lives, their sensibilities, and their point of view, as if they are less important. If it ends up blinding one to the richness and complexity of a film like Gas, Food, and Lodging, it does an even greater disservice.

Anders's film begins as a portrait of a family of women. Nora (Brooke Adams) is a sexy waitress at the Pull-Off Plaza Truck Stop. After long days at work, she is rarely energetic enough to think about anything except the burdens associated with raising her fatherless teenage daughters. Shade (Fairuza Balk) is poised between childhood and adolescence, between play and dressing up for that first crush. Her older, jaded sister Trudi (Ione Skye) has already got a reputation for herself, and is desperately seeking a way to get out of the enclosed, small-town world of Laramie, New Mexico. Various men enter and become involved in their world, albeit briefly; these liaisons have an impact, but never take center stage.

On one level the story is about women and their growing relationships. But Anders resists formulaic situations, and her characters take on new dimensions as a result. The performances are convincingly real and moving, while avoiding stereotypical or two-dimensional characterizations. Ultimately what emerges is a film which touches both our hearts and our minds and which offers an understanding and perspective that are neither reducible to simplistic homilies nor merely emotionally cathartic. Anders's film deserves both serious appraisal and frank appreciation.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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