“Do you think that maybe one time you’d wanna, I dunno, just hang out and do something that doesn’t involve suicide, heroin or prostitutes?”

“Where’s the fun in that?”

“Expiration” is a surprisingly potent independent feature from local writer-director Gavin Heffernan. It’s intelligent without being pretentious, visually confident without showing off and hip without sweating it.

Heffernan stars as Sam, a good-natured boy who’s sent for a spin when his best friend Niki (Erin Simkin) tells him she’s pregnant with his baby. Sam decides to do the right thing and propose to her, but before he has the chance he becomes one of the victims of a convenience store hold-up and the thief gets away with the engagement ring. Also part of the loot is a bag full of drugs Rachel (Janet Lane) was to deliver in a few hours, so they end up working together to find the guy.

There isn’t much Hefferman does wrong here: the story moves along nicely, the characters have simple but understandable motivations and the cast is appealing. Then you have skillful editing, with various motifs that keep coming back through the narrative, and an evocative score by Jon Day that calls to mind the sound of Montreal bands like godspeed! you black emperor.

There are a few iffy details, like the whole Wheel of Fate deal (the loser gets AIDS?!?) or the fact that the Montreal metro and bars are closed at 4am, but this isn’t nearly enough to spoil the experience. “Expiration” is an eventful ride with a memorable gallery of characters, kind of like a more melancholy Go