Judge Patrick Bromley is in the market for a new BFF.
Two girls, a '76 AMC Pacer, the open road and an impending apocalypse.
Watching Best Friends Forever, the 2013 pseudo-apocalyptic road movie written and directed by actress Brea Grant (Heroes, Rob Zombie's Halloween II), I was reminded of Lake Bell's In a World from last year. Hollywood can be a difficult place for actresses, even young and beautiful actresses like Bell and Grant. There are only certain kinds of roles in certain kinds of movies available to them, so Bell and Grant have taken matters into their own hands, having written, directed and starred in their own movies. The results aren't always perfect, but I'll take ambitious, personal movies like Best Friends Forever any day over whatever generic romantic comedy Grant might have been otherwise offered.
Grant, a comic book writer and creator herself, plays Harriet, aspiring comic book writer getting ready to relocate to Texas. She's bringing along her best friend Reba (co-writer Vera Miao), who's totally different from Harriet: where Harriet is studious, Reba is promiscuous. In their travels, they fail to notice how everyone they encounter is behaving really strangely: fearful, panicked, and even violent. That's because Harriet and Reba failed to notice that a nuclear bomb was detonated in California and triggered the apocalypse.
There are a lot of obstacles in trying to make an apocalyptic film on a budget, and they're obstacles Best Friends Forever is mostly good at avoiding. That's because writers Grant and Miao wisely focus on the relationship between the friends—the film sticks with their conversations, their car, their journey. When it opens itself up to small-scale encounters, like one with a group of angry young men on the highway, it works. When it tries to go too big, like during a couple of party scenes that bookend the film, itâ€™s a little more wobbly.
Though the budget is low (Grant and Miao turned to Kickstarter to procure the funds to finish the film, eventually raising over $80,000 in backer donations), Grant is clever about the way that she hints at the end of the world in the corners of the frame—it's a bit of chaos here, or a mushroom cloud in the distance My favorite touch is the way the film plays with the real meaning of the word "disaster"; while the characters don't always make a ton of sense and their choices betray who we know them to be for the convenience of the plot, the best stuff in Best Friends Forever is, not surprisingly, the relationship with the two friends. There aren't enough movies made about female friendship, especially any without a male love interest at the center. There are even fewer movies about female friendship that come prefabricated for the midnight crowd.
Because Best Friends Forever was shot on Super 16mm film (as opposed to digital, which many low budget movies are using these days), it has a grainy, worn look about it. The DVD transfer on Kino Lorber's disc of the film retains that look, meaning the image is swirling with grain but faithful to the source. Any flaws in the picture, whether it's the washed out colors or the lack of detail, can most likely be attributed to the source and not the transfer. Only a standard stereo audio track is offered, but it gets the job done just fine. This is a modest movie with a modest sound design.
Brea Grant and Vera Miao recorded a commentary over the feature, and it's a fun listen—they have a ton of enthusiasm for the project and speak to the challenges of shooting a low budget film. The rest of the bonus features are featurettes devoted to the making of the movie, the artwork featured or the Kickstater campaign that got it finished, including a series of videos the filmmakers released each time a new goal was reached.
Taken on its own terms, there's a lot to like in Best Friends Forever. While some of its thunder was no doubt stolen by Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, a big-budget, higher-profile movie with a similar premise and a lot of star power, Best Friends Forever make a good low-fi counterpart. More than anything, it's nice to see Brea Grant get a lead role, even if it's one she had to create for herself.
Messy but charming.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Kino Lorber
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