Abraham Lim, who edited the Robert Altman comedy Cookie's Fortune, makes an auspicious debut as a writer, director, and actor with this gripping, uncommonly poetical account of the growing bond between two outsiders on a Kansas road crew: a reasonable, accommodating black man (Gregory Sullivan) and a young Chinese troublemaker who refuses to speak (Lim). The setup may sound simplistic, but Lim has meticulously re-created the languid, stifling atmosphere of a backwater town, where the white workers who taunt the two outsiders are fighting for their own dignity as well. A cloying voice-over by the troublemaker's late father, taken from a cassette tape he left behind, is one of the script's few blemishes; the twists and turns of the men's unfolding friendship are astutely paced, their credibility enhanced by Sullivan's moral authority. 103 min. A 35-millimeter print will be shown. Gene Siskel Film Center, Saturday, April 21, 8:00, 312-443-3737.