Longtime Mamet collaborator Mantegna makes his directorial debut adapting one of Mamet's earliest (and most autobiographical) plays. Grad student Dale (Mamet's younger brother Tony) signs on a Great Lakes ore freighter as the cook. Plot consists of Canturbury Tales-esque storytelling by the crew, along with differing opinions on what happened to the previous cook, ala "Roshamon." The thrust of the film is Dale's observations and gleanings from the crew, especially Joe (Forster), who once had artistic and educational ambitions which he gave up for a regular paycheck. Excellent, understated performances by all help mask the film's inability to escape its stage limitations and Mantegna's uneven first-time direction. Dialogue shows the promise, as well as the themes, realized in Mamet's later work.