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The Independent Critic

Cam Gigandet, Jena Malone, Max Hartman, Brooklyn Sudano, Chris Johnson, Julianna Guill and Will Yun Lee
Danny Buday
97 Mins.
Breaking Glass Pictures

 "Five Star Day" Review 
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Jake Gibson (Cam Gigandet, Twilight & Easy A) is going to have a five-star day ... at least according to his horoscope. Instead, Jake has a completely f***ed up day and loses nearly everything a human being can lose. Determined to prove that astrology is complete garbage, Jake heads out on a journey to interview three other people born at the same time and in the same Chicago area hospital to find out if they too had disappointing birthdays.

The journey that will take Jake from Berkeley to Chicago to Atlantic City and to New York will reveal far more than he ever expects as he weaves himself into the lives of Sarah (Jena Malone, Sucker Punch), Yvette (Brooklyn Sudano, Sinners & Saints) and Wesley (Max Hartman) and picks up lessons on life, love, fate and destiny along the way.

With its quirky yet universal themes and naturalism, Five Star Day practically fits the definition of what one expects from a modestly budgeted indie project. The first feature film from writer/director and recent AFI graduate Danny Buday, Five-Star Day is an involving and emotionally intelligent film with a terrific ensemble cast and dialogue that never hits a false note.

Cam Gigandet has been around the Hollywood scene since 2003, but he really broke through after his 2008 appearance in the original Twilight. Since that time, he's had appearances in Pandorum, Easy A, Burlesque and Priest among others. Whether he's a household name or not, Five Star Day is the kind of film that A-listers would love and up-and-comers dream about with its richly developed characters and engaging story. While this very week finds Taylor Lautner reminding us with Abduction that he's far more muscle than actual acting talent, Gigandet serves notice once again that his buffed up screen presence is far more than just machismo. Gigandet avoids playing high dramatics as Jake, instead portraying the young man as one who is humbled but not defeated by his catastrophic day.

While Gigandet is strong in the lead, Five Star Day may benefit even more from its excellent supporting performances led by what should be a break-out performance by Max Hartman, whom this critic saw 3-4 years back in a great little short film at the Lake County Film Festival called Partially True Tales of High Adventure! Hartman is nothing short of fantastic as Wesley, a sort of party animal lounge singer who brings to mind a younger Buster Poindexter.

Jena Malone, an actress who has seemingly always bubbled right under "household name" status, is great as Sarah, a tremendously down on her luck single mom with a druggie ex-boyfriend she can't seem to leave behind. Brooklyn Sudano rounds out the leading quartet with top notch performance, as well. Even the film's minor roles are well cast with appealing performances turned in by the always solid Mark Boone Jr., a great Richard Riehle, American Pie alum Tad Hilgenbrink and Will Yun Lee.

Ultimately a film about the choices we make and how they add up to determine our destiny, Five Star Day works mostly because Buday has constructed a film based upon a diversity of intersecting lives and life experiences that seem remarkably different on the surface yet are remarkably the same in many ways. D.P. Jason Oldak's camera work is excellent, creating a visual journey that companions perfectly that of Jake and his growing of new friends and influences. Megan Hutchison, an AFI grad along with Oldak and Buday, designs the production with this sense of Jake's building insight and wisdom. Ryan Beveridge gives Five Star Day its mood-setting original score, while the film also features an absolutely killer soundtrack featuring the likes of Doves, Interpol, Guster, The Henry Clay People, The Sweet Hurt and others.

Five Star Day has been picked up for distribution by Breaking Glass Pictures and will hit theatres for a limited nationwide release on November 4th to be followed by a VOD and DVD release. With an abundance of intelligence and heart delivered by a stand-out ensemble cast, Five Star Day is a film you'll want to catch as soon as you get a chance.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic