starring Geetanjali Thapa, Olivia DeJonge, Robert Aramayo, Cynthia Nixon
written by Charlotte Rabate & Sonejuhi Sinha
directed by Sonejuhi Sinha
by Walter Chaw Its title calling back to both Akira Kurosawa's seminal noir Stray Dog and Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-Liang's miserablist masterpiece Stray Dogs, Sonejuhi Sinha's Stray Dolls would fit most comfortably on a double-bill with Sean Baker's The Florida Project. Like it, Stray Dolls is set almost entirely in the impoverished world of permanent-residence motels, where the desperate do their best to grab their slice of the pie. Unlike Baker's film, Sinha's is essentially a crime movie centred on two room-cleaners: rough-and-tumble Dallas (Olivia DeJonge) and her roomie, fresh-off-the-boat immigrant Riz (Geetanjali Thapa), from whom Dallas immediately steals her belongings and holds them as ransom. The price? Riz must steal something from a guest's room that Dallas can turn over for a quick buck. The stakes are high for Riz, who, as we see in the first of the film's cynical turns, has her passport confiscated by her employer, Una (Cynthia Nixon), who immediately, surreptitiously shreds it. Riz is well and truly on her own, more than she knows, even: marooned in a strange land without allies or papers.