Monday, May 13, 2019

Tribeca with Abe: Plus One

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which ran April 24th – May 5th.

Plus One
Directed by Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer
Spotlight Narrative

Weddings are a celebratory occasion, but that may not necessary be the emotion that everyone in the room feels. Those who are married can recall fond memories of their special day each time they witness the union of another couple, while those who are in committed relationships or already engaged will think positively about what they want when they stand together before an adoring crowd. Those without a date, however, may find attending an event designed to honor love and being with someone else utterly unbearable, especially if, for them, it’s a frequent occurrence.

Ben (Jack Quaid) and Alice (Maya Erskine) are friends from college, and, as of late, they’ve each been accompanying the other to the unbelievably high number of weddings that they feel forced to attend. When they are regularly mistaken for a couple, they each laugh off the notion, declaring that they’d never even consider it and acting as wingmen so that they can each hook up with a random stranger. With each toast and romantic misfire, the two are forced to consider whether they should in fact be together and if a theoretical relationship could actually work given the platonic way that they’ve always seen each other.

This comedy, which deservedly took home an Audience Award at Tribeca, is a winning recipe that has plenty of familiar ingredients. It’s by no means new territory, both the setup with the weddings and the friends who seem destined to hook up even if they are both entirely resistant to it. Yet this is a genuinely enjoyable and totally involving experience, one that presents scenes designed to make audiences smile and laugh, wasting no time on unnecessary subplots and forgettable interactions. The entire narrative feels relevant, with plenty of humor and great dialogue throughout it.

Liking the two protagonists is crucial to this film’s success, and their portrayers deliver tremendously. Quaid paints Ben as the more serious of the two, eager to maintain his standards of decorum and behavior, yet also a bit too chatty for his own good at times. Erskine, a strong presence on “Casual” whose talents seem wasted on “Pen15,” is the inarguable star of the film, turning in a performance that feels fully on, milking every scene for all the comedy that can be found within it. They make this a totally enjoyable experience, proving that weddings can be a great setting for comedies and that these two, particularly Erskine, should get more starring roles.


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