Best Friends Forever review: the end of the world as women see it

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Best Friends Forever green light Vera Miao Brea Grant

Smartly stylish, refracting familiar fictional events and themes through a little-used cinematic prism: that of women’s perspectives.
I’m “biast” (pro): I am desperate for movies by and about women

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Look. This is what happens when women make movies. You get different kinds of movies. Not radically different. Not anything that’s gonna scare the skittish boys away. Just stories with a slightly different perspective. Of course, this fantastic little flick was produced waaaay outside the studio system (it was funded on Kickstarter), but you’d never know it was a homegrown production from looking at it: it’s smartly stylish, in a grungy indie sort of way. But the real joy is in how writers and stars Brea Grant (who also directs) and Vera Miao are just naturally refracting familiar fictional events and themes through a prism that isn’t often used for cinematic tales; that is, the one their own eyes and experience as women bring. Harriet (Grant), a comic-book artist, and Reba (Miao), who appears to be making partying her profession, are the best friends, on a road trip from Los Angeles to Austin when mega national disaster strikes elsewhere; they’re not aware of it, because they’re taking funky little back roads through the middle of nowhere, listening to recorded music (not the radio) and encountering few people. We’re a little more clued in than they are, because we saw the mushroom cloud in the distance out their back window that they missed, but not much; the scale of what has happened slowly becomes more apparent — though only to us — via their few meetings with other people… like the hitchhiker threesome, all guys, who desperately try to catch a ride with them. One of the “jokes” — though it’s hardly funny, and isn’t meant to be — is that Harriet and Reba, as women used to coping with men’s jerkiness, don’t see anything unusual in their behavior: fight-or-flight survival mode is virtually indistinguishable from guys being guys. (Perhaps the boys in the audience can take a teensy lesson from this: you might be behaving in a way that is apocalyptically creepy without intending it or even realizing it. Ask a gal friend.) Very girl-stuff too is the “countdown to disaster,” placards that spring up during the film and continue long past the end-of-the-world that has struck. The disaster is, of course, the possibility of losing your best friend, which is bad enough at the best of times but truly a disaster when you’re going to need to rely on each other more than ever. Which is pretty much what every damn bro-mance flick is also basically about. See: not so scary at all.

now on VOD (Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, iTunes, cable) in the U.S.

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Fri, Jul 12, 2013 6:01pm

Oh, yeah! You can keep your megastars and megabudgets. This is what I want to watch.