Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Best Friends Forever: Driving Off into the Apocalypse
the apocalypse comes, books will definitely have an advantage over the
internet. An aspiring grad student would
agree. She was planning a career as a
librarian. Unfortunately, the end of the
world complicates matters. However, it
takes a while for her and her hard partying BFF a while to notice Armageddon
looming during their southwestern road trip in Brea Grant’s Best Friends Forever (trailer here), which releases
today on itunes.
is the sensitive one, who spent a short stint in a mental hospital following a
suicide attempt. Following the long held
tradition of low budget genre movies, her best pal Reba is kind of trampy. After graduation, Harriet packs up the AMC
Pacer for grad school in Texas, convincing Reba to tag along for the ride. While they are on the road, a mysterious
terrorist attack leads to a series of nuclear explosions. The two women are not listening to the news
though, preferring music and the occasional “Oprah” moment to the outside
world. Their first inklings something
might be amiss comes when three hipsters carjack their Pacer.
the breakdown of civilization strains their relationship. Of course, nobody claims responsibility for
the cataclysmic act of terror, lest the film offend anyone prone to
offense. In one awfully strange
exchange, several characters want to blame North Korea, to which Reba replies
she is Chinese, as if the PRC were as benign as Luxemburg. Indeed, the third act threatens to undo much
of the good will established by the co-leads, depicting a rather nasty nativist
martial law sweeping across Texas.
Grant co-wrote and co-produced with her co-star Vera Miao, viewers are pretty
much stuck with them as Harriet and Reba, respectively. Fortunately, they have some nice bickering
buddy-buddy chemistry together. Still,
this is clearly a genre film with a female audience in mind, casting men exclusively
in either predatory or ineffectual roles.
While Grant comes in with geek credentials from appearances in Heroes and Halloween 2, as well as her work co-writing the 1920’s zombie comic
We Will Bury You with her brother
Zane, neither of the two seems particularly comfortable with the odd action
scene. Frankly, everyone in BFF would rather talk than do anything
else, but the dialogue does not have the sort of snap it should.
Putting a Pacer in the center of an
end-of-the-world road movie is pretty ingenious. Employing the apocalypse as a prism through
which to examine personal and social relationships is also a promising
strategy, yielding mixed results in this case.
There are some appealing moments of friendship under extreme
circumstance in BFF. Nonetheless, it never approaches the attitude
or verve of Thom Eberhardt’s Night of the
Comet, the gold standard for zeitgeisty generational Doomsday movies.
More chick flick (deliberately referencing Thelma & Louise) than midnight movie, Best Friends Forever should satisfy those looking for the former,
albeit with a smidge of an edge. Flawed
but interesting, it releases this week on VOD platforms and will screen
conventionally August 1st during the forthcoming 2013 Asian American
International Film Festival.
Labels: Apocalyptic cinema, VOD