"He" (David Fuit) brings to mind the dashing good looks and playboy mentality of Matthew McConaughey woven together with the edgy, unpredictability of, say, a Patrick Bateman.
"She" (Erin Nicole Cline) is a woman, simultaneously beautiful and personable and, perhaps, immensely naive and more than a bit quirky. When "He" unexpectedly and without explanation shows up on her sofa one evening, the normal reaction be, oh, a scream, a shout or absolute and complete panic. Despite the lunacy of the situation, he begins to speak with the eloquence of Hollywood's most romantic leading men and with enough smoothness that her initial alarm turns into attraction.
A darkly comical film with glimpses of high intensity, writer/director Joops Fragale's Date Night
takes the concept of the "perfect date" and knocks it on its ass. It's a film that you can't help but enjoy, because Fragale serves up romance, violence, comedy, thrills, horror and much more all within the film's 15-minute running time.
Erin Nicole Cline, who was terrific as a mostly supporting player in Fragale's Simone,
is front and center this time around and again hits it out of the ballpark with a performance that is simultaneously funny, sexy, scary and even a bit sad. If the audience doesn't buy into the basic concept, that of a woman somehow becoming enchanted by a handsome man suddenly appearing on her own sofa, then the entire film blows up into irrelevance. Fortunately, Cline convinces from the film's opening moments with equal parts vulnerability and transcendent fantasizing. We not only buy into Cline's performance, but she wraps us around her pretty little finger just about as much as "He" does "She."
She's equaled by David Fuit's take on his character, a character who could have easily turned everyone off right away with his eerie Bateman-like smirk and obviously off-kilter behavior. Fuit brings to mind a fantastic short from 3-4 years back called Validation
by Kurt Kuenne, particularly the performance of that film's lead, TJ Thyne, as a man who turned his world upside down to a ludicrous degree by turning his job into a constant task of validating everyone he encountered. While Thyne sold the sincerity, Fuit weaves his sincerity into a sort of "wolf in sheep's clothing" persona that leaves you constantly on the edge of your seat wondering exactly what's going to unfold.
D.P. Michael Long's camera work is top notch given the film was put together on what Fragale describes as a "pizza and beer" budget, while Christopher Fragale contributes a musical score that companions the film perfectly. Several of the predictable ultra-indie tech issues that at least modestly plagued Simone
have been addressed here with only a couple special effect shots proving to be minorly distracting.
With Date Night,
now in the midst of its festival run, writer/director Joops Fragale confirms that he is a gifted, up-and-coming independent director with a unique artistic vision that he's able to communicate both with imagery and the spoken word. Additionally, Erin Nicole Cline should be seeing quite a few more offers coming her way.
For more information on Date Night,
visit the film's website.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic