Film Review: The Departure
Director: Merland Hoxha
Cast: Jon Briddell, Kendall Chappell, Olivia Lemmon, Austin Lauer, Grant Wright Gunderson
Running Time: 71
Australian Distributor: Amazon Prime
In Los Angeles, just as Nate (Grant Wright Gunderson) and his girlfriend Jessica (Kendall Chappell) decide to move in together, his boss Brice (Jon Briddell) asks him to manage the New York office for six months. Meanwhile, Nate’s friend John (Austin Lauer) is struggling to get somewhere with his girlfriend Amber (Olivia Lemmon), who seems distracted by someone else. As Nate prepares to move, he worries about a coworker Jessica says always makes her laugh. So Nate asks John to try to seduce Jessica, to test her loyalty. But of course this puts both friendships and relationships in jeopardy.
The dialogue has a refreshing everyday quality to it, veering from topic to topic without turning melodramatic about the bigger issues that come up. So even if Nate’s idea seems insane, at least he and John talk around the issue to find a kind of insane logic, insisting this won’t damage their friendship.
On the other hand, John’s actions begins to feel rather ridiculous as the situation intensifies, leading to some unexpected twists and turns.
Even as things get somewhat messy, the actors skillfully underplay their roles, stirring humour and emotions into conversations. The actors cleverly play these things too, revealing how all of this leaves them struggling to like themselves.
If you enjoy relationship based dramas this well shot and directed feature film debut by writer-director Merland Hoxha, based on his 2017 short film, has something to offer you and your significant other.
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