Sunday 11 November 2012

Date Night (2011)

Director: Joops Fragale
Stars: Erin Nicole Cline and David Fuit

She's not going out, she emphasises to her friend on the phone. She doesn't want to be a third wheel. She's going to stay home in her dressing gown, catch up on her reading, watch a movie. Any excuse. But our story really begins when she samples the perfume from an ad in a women's magazine by rubbing it on her wrists. When she heads back to the couch with her popcorn, he's right there waiting for her, escaped from the ad with every line in the book on his lips. 'You are so beautiful,' he says, beckoning her to him. 'You ought to be kissed, and often,' he quotes as if he'd just conjured the words out of his head, 'by someone who knows how.' And, as if by some insane impulse given that there's suddenly a stranger in her apartment for no apparent reason, she goes for it. 'Don't leave,' she tells him, and goes to get ready for her dream date, returning to find him there with champagne and strawberries. He even brings the light with him.
David Fuit is wooden for the most part, but then he's supposed to be. He's a walking cliché who sprang to life from a perfume ad. He does everything she could ever want: make salad, rub her feet, play the ukelele. He's confident, he smiles well and he makes her laugh. It doesn't matter how. This isn't his story though, it's hers and the camera rarely strays far from Erin Nicole Cline, who impresses. The material requires her to run through a vast array of different emotions and reactions and she has the acting chops to do just that. It also tasks her with looking completely different at different stages of the film, which is under fifteen minutes with credits. Starting out dowdy but comfortable, she has to jazz herself up enough that the happy date scenes, and the bed scenes that follow, could easily have been lifted from a commercial. Of course, there's a lot more here than just a dream date sequence and the morning brings the other side of the story.

While obviously not shot for the budget of the commercial the middle section looks like, this is very capably done. Cline is excellent throughout and Fuit gets to show a little more range than we get initially. Michael Long's camerawork is fluid, with great composition and movement that makes the progression feel like a dance. The set design is solid, the editing is tight, the music by Christopher Fragale is spot on. Only the lighting shows its flaws a little too often. Even the end credits are good, highlighting simply how so much work is done by so few people on shorts like this, as names scroll down past long lists of roles. Joops Fragale gets most, from writer, director and editor to stab dummy. Long, his partner at 386 Films, gets almost as many. The few people involved here took a good idea and let it flow smoothly to its natural conclusion without ever overstaying its welcome. The ending is textbook, as right as it is expected. It's promising stuff.

Date Night can be viewed for free on Vimeo.

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