Monday 23 December 2013

Second Chance (2012)

Director: Lee Quarrie
Stars: Kevin Herrmann, Jim Coates, Jonathan Medina and Nikki Hicks
This film was an official selection at the Jerome Indie Music & Film Festival in Jerome, AZ in 2013. Here's an index to my reviews of 2013 films.
This film was an official selection at the Phoenix Film Festival in Phoenix in 2013. Here's an index to my reviews of 2013 films.
Lee Quarrie's short comedy seems to have attracted many chances. It played the Home Grown Shorts set at the Phoenix Film Festival this year, alongside Another Chance, which was neither a sequel nor a prequel but a completely unconnected short from Barbara Gross. Then, as if to generate every possible confusion, it played the Love Shorts Baby! set at the Jerome Indie Film & Music Festival with Jon Ray's Second Chances, which isn't a sequel either, even though it has an actor in common, Jim Coates. What are the chances for an actor to go from Second Chance to Second Chances within a year and yet find them unrelated? Actually, it's not that unlikely, an IMDb search suggests; everyone must get a second chance in the movies. As this pair of films allowed Coates to restore an older lady's youth and win the lottery, I'm sure that he's not too upset about it. Quarrie can't be either; this Second Chance won her second place at the A3F 24 hour challenge in 2012 and she was awarded Best Director too.

More pertinently, what are the chances that Second Chance is any good? Well, it turns out to be a fun romp, if a predictable one, that sets itself up well and sticks in the mind because of its neat little twist, perhaps all the more neat because most of what comes in between is predictable. Coates shows up at the outset, to deliver bad news to Johnny, played by Kevin Herrmann, in the form of divorce papers. He doesn't take it well, but that's understandable. 'Let's avoid the drama of a face to face confrontation' is a rather tacky way to receive such news, though it's surely a darn sight better than realising that your Facebook status changed. I like the percussion music that follows Johnny around while he tries to deal with his situation, as if it's stuck in his head to stop him from sleeping. I'm sure he doesn't get to do a lot of that, especially as his husband Kurt is played by Jonathan Medina, a quality actor constantly in demand for gay roles locally. Sadly we don't get to see much of him. Neither does Johnny.

It's once the news has been delivered that it starts getting generic, as Johnny goes through all the steps you might expect, from the sad and sympathetic ones to the bitchy and vindictive ones. Lee Quarrie's script, adapted from a story by Judith Eisenberg, plays it rather safe, maybe to aim at a verbal reaction from the audience, shouting support for Johnny. The most surprising it gets is the constant presence of Stan the deliveryman, whose immediate shoulder to cry on eventually progresses to an overt shot of him as a substitute shrink. It's capably done, with decent acting and decent backup from the technical side, so it's no hardship to slide on through this middle section, but it isn't surprising in the slightest. Its biggest flaw is that it's short on imagination, which is odd given how well it begins and how well it ends. The ending is what really makes it shine, because it's touching and appropriate and it wraps the piece up far better than I expected it would. I wonder if the ending was the spark that generated the rest.

Second Chance can be viewed for free at Vimeo.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your thoughtful insights. My only comment is that a little research would reveal that Lee Quarrie is a woman, not a "he" as you refer to me in your review.

Happy Holidays!

Miss Lee Quarrie

Hal C. F. Astell said...

My apologies, Lee. Duly fixed!

You know, that was the last line I wrote in the review. I was checking to see if the film was online, so I could include a link to it. That search took me to your own website, but it meant that I didn't go in through the front door and so I made the mistake of assuming and made an ass out of myself.

Merry Christmas!