I find it increasingly difficult to write fairly about short films. When a film is only 5-15 minutes long, I often find myself discussing the same things that I did in previous reviews of films of a similar length. Very rarely do I see something that completely surprises me, not only in the quality of overall production, but also in creating an accessible theme within such a short screen time. "Date Night" surprised my in every way possible. Technically, yes, "Date Night" is a surprising accomplishment, and its cast is nothing short of fantastic, but these notes can wait until a little further into the review as there is a something I'd like to discuss first.
Visible just slightly underneath the black comic veneer of "Date Night", is a relatable theme that nearly any of us can identify with. On a psychological level, everyone who watches "Date Night", male or female, can relate to the experience of becoming so instantly attached to something, or perhaps someone, only to realize that this thing, whatever it is, is nowhere near what you expected. Maybe the guitar you loved playing now has a warped fretboard, rattling every time you strum a G chord. It's changed, or perhaps you only think it has… but somehow, things simply aren't the same.
The more literal comparison will be drawn by viewers (primarily female, as the film wisely chooses to represent), who've suffered through a sort of 'wolf in sheep's clothing' relationship. The male character is initially portrayed as the 'Perfect Man'. He spouts cheesy lines from movies - more specifically, cheesy romantic lines from movies, and before you know it, she's putty in his hands. He's handsome and romantic, made all the more apparent by his presentation of champagne and strawberries. "What a sweetheart" any woman would think to themselves, sighing through their immovable smile. The romance gradually evolves to sex, and then, like a blow from a hammer, the truth becomes painfully apparent. This 'Perfect Man' is not perfect at all, yet fatally flawed. He's not the man she fell in love with, perhaps he never was. But this is the wonder of human beings, we are deceitful, nearly all of us are in some form, and despite being victimized at one point or another by another's lies we continue to leave ourselves open for the opportunity to perhaps find an honest truth within another individual - A chance to find love.
Of course Director Joops Fragale ("Simone"), doesn't approach this as some sort of dramatic piece to encourage reflection… "Date Night" is a comedy, a dark comedy with some intense moments, but a comedy just the same. And it is funny, thanks to an incredibly capable cast of two, and an enjoyable/clever script in which the scenario is taken to the extremes of both romance and terror.
The beautiful Erin Cline (also "Simone") is nothing short of fantastic - she delivers her lines in a more believable fashion than would be expected, and manages to carry this believability into her character's being instantly swept off her feet despite the outrageousness of the situation. Her character should be scared when a complete stranger appears suddenly on her couch, yet after the initial shock wears off, not only is she not afraid, but she is more concerned with impressing this mystery man. It seems completely absurd when taken simply at face value, but as an audience we believe it - a true testament to both the performance as well as the direction.
David Fuit is equally capable as said stranger, delivering his lines in a distinctly artificial fashion. This may sound like a slight, but I mean it with the utmost resect. His character IS completely artificial. He speaks not a single word of actual thought, simply throwing cliched romantic lines from Hollywood productions at the target of his affections. He is the personification of the cliched romanticism we, as men, attempt to be in order to impress the girl.
Technically, "Date Night" looks great, perhaps even better than 386 Films previous film "Simone". Very impressive considering the films budget has been labelled as a 'pizza and beer budget'. Fragale has great control over the camera, and the film looks as though it was conceived with a much higher budget than it ultimately was. One scene in particular, in which Erin Cline is dressing herself up for her 'mystery man', really showcases both the editing and music. On all fronts, technically, "Date Night" is a remarkable accomplishment.
"Date Night" is one of those rare films, short or otherwise, that not only manages to hold your attention, but also entertain you for it's entire duration. There's nary a misstep to be found, as the film is nearly flawless in it's execution both in front of and behind the camera. Fragale lets his actors control the film, and it is all the better for it.
Maybe "Date Night" wasn't crafted with the intention of relating to the audience, perhaps I chose to look into it more than I really needed to. It's entertaining to be sure, but I saw a lot more 'behind the scenes' there is a distinct emotional connection between the audience and the on-screen characters, and while that connection is never used to manipulate the audiences emotions, it is most certainly there. It's rare to see a film that everyone can take something away from, but that is exactly how I feel about "Date Night". Wickedly entertaining, but with a heart at it's core, it truly is a remarkable film.
If you have the opportunity to see it, I can't recommend it enough.
|Directed by:||Joops Fragale||Starring:
|Written by:||Joops Fragale||David Fuit|
|Produced by:||Michael Long|
|Music by:||Christopher Fragale|