Monday, 6 May 2013

Best Friends Forever @ Sci-fi London

With the release of Star Trek Into Darkness into our cinemas this week, it seemed all too fitting for the SCI-FI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL, an annual festival celebrating the best of new and old sci-fi and fantasy fiction, to be held during the rife anticipation. Some ‘Trekkies’ were calling it a ‘warm-up.’ Celebrating its 12th year, the week-long event opened with indie vamp Byzantium on Tuesday 30 April and has, and will continue to, exhibit an invigorating programme of Sci-fi and Fantasy film UK and World premieres, exclusive talks with the genre’s key players, a short film showcase, and an array of special events, all-nighters and workshops until this Monday (6).

As SUNDANCE LONDON, which ended last weekend, was becoming a mere memory by the time Tuesday dawned, I was all too eager to check out the action at Stratford Picturehouse, the festival’s primary host venue alongside BFI Southbank. I caught up with the UK premiere of indie post-apocolyptic Best Friends Forever.

Marking Brea Grant’s directorial debut, this Thelma and Louise-type adventure tells the story of graphic comic book artist Harriett (Brea Grant) and best friend Olivia (Vera Miao) who pack up a ’76 AMC Pacer in LA and embark on their first road trip together to Austin, Texas. But what is meant to be a final ardent flee for the two hipsters before Harriett starts grad school and their lives part ways, becomes slightly interrupted by the fact that, on the day that they leave, nucleur bombs wipe out half of the US. Unaware of the terrorist attacks and mass destruction around them, the pair find themselves entangled in a string of misfortunes and mishaps. Their car gets hijacked by a trio of desperate wanderers and the trucker that gives them a ride becomes abnormally abusive at their innocently jovial demeanour. Before they know it, their honest and carefree reunion on the road becomes a battle for reconciliation and redemption on a journey towards the truth.

Co-written and co-produced by the two leads Grant and Miao, Best Friends Forever is as much of a sci-fi as it is a dark comedy. Consciously dumbing down reality, the attention lies more with how the disaster toys with the end of a friendship rather than, well, the end of the world. It’s more heartfelt girl talk, boys and booze behind an amusing backdrop of plain ignorance, with the odd explosive tantrum as opposed to the expected imploding landscape. Being low-budget, much of the apocalyptic goings on are communicated through inference, with passers-by conveying brief information or showing signs of nucleur-reactive illness or abnormal behaviour, and the occasional glance at a generic disaster TV news report. The narrative’s earnest and lighthearted tone is unfamiliarly uplifting and entertaining enough, and it skips through an average ‘take it or leave it’ notion for an aptly eighty minutes.

But what really needs shouting about is its B-movie style cinematography. Shot on Super 16 film, rather than digitally, its raw and grainy substance really revives a lost texture in the genre, giving it a genuine handmade touch. It really does look and feel great, concurrently enhancing the digetic content for which it so well suits, and its distinctive, poignant score adds melodrama and sentiment. Though an abundance of imagination is undoubtedly the primary driver throughout the film’s entirety, it would have perhaps benefited from another dimension of graphic art imagery to bring to life its recurring references and break free from its extreme provincial outlook.

VERDICT: A frivolous and fun throwback road trip movie that ultimately falls short in conveying an underlying sombre didactic, but contributes to the genre with its commitment to tactile and sensory effects.

No comments:

Post a Comment