August 14, 2013

It's a Disaster

Todd Berger, 2012

A group of friends get together for an afternoon brunch. They are not even into their first mimosa before they get word of an devastating attack on the United States. The attack is very life threatening, but that doesn't stop them from unleashing their own personal drama on each other.

It's a limited storytelling piece, and a good one at that. Many films have failed with a similar model. Some quickly come off as too far fetched and lose you quickly. This one succeeds, partly because its fueled by a good script but also by good acting. This could easily be considered an indie low-budget version of This is the End. David Cross delivers the humor from the opening scene, along with Julia Stiles. The film starts off with a tangible sense of awkward tension with David Cross' character Glen being introduced to everyone, while on his date with Tracy (Julia Stiles). You, the viewer, feels the same unfamiliarity with the brunch-mates, not really knowing what to think of them and building your natural prejudgments. You are introduced to Hedy (America Ferrera), a friendly but restrained schoolteacher. There's Hedy's "fiance" Shane (Jeff Grace), the nerdboy sporting the American Apparel hoodie and consumed with a comic book auction on his phone. Then there's Lexi (Rachel Boston) and Buck (Kevin Brennan), the vegan new age couple who are quick to invade ones space bubbles and not aligned with social norms. They all come together in a mishmash of impulses and accidental honesty.

In the battle between macro and micro events, the drama that unfolds are ordinary interpersonal conflicts that one (you would think) wouldn't be particularly concerned with if death could knock at the front door at any given moment. The fact that they continue to focus on the drama is not only acceptable, but it continues to be engaging. The picture effectively examines ones reaction to hearing that the end of the world is near. Some people become reflective, some indulge in libations, some become sexual, some fall back on their religious beliefs. In the end, what does it matter anyway? We're all going to die. It could be any minute! I'll drink to that.