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Best Friends Forever (I) (2013)

 |  Drama  |  19 January 2013 (USA)
5.1
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Ratings: 5.1/10 from 208 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 12 critic

Harriet, a comic book artist with a secret, and her reckless BFF, Reba, take their '76 AMC Pacer on the open road and instead get a wild ride towards an impending nuclear apocalypse.

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Alex 1
...
Man (scenes deleted)
Stevin Espinoza ...
Mattias
...
Alex 2
...
Sebastian
...
Harriet
Ben Hethcoat ...
Kyle
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Austinite
...
Sean
...
The Sheriff
...
Reba
...
Woman
...
Nick
...
Olivia (as Tamara Camille)
Sean Riggs ...
Chris
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Storyline

BEST FRIENDS FOREVER is a clever dark comedy and sci-fi horror movie, combining equal parts heartfelt road trip buddy film and apocalyptic disaster story, with two badass girls. Harriet, a perpetually optimistic comic-book artist, dreams of escaping her past in Los Angeles and hits the road for a new life in Austin, Texas. She drags Reba her seemingly devil-may-care BFF, along for the ride. After nuclear bombs explode in four cities, the girls are forced to ask: When faced with the end of the world - what is most important to you? Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Two girls, a '76 AMC Pacer, the open road and an impending nuclear apocalypse.

Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

19 January 2013 (USA)  »

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16:9 HD
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Shot in Super 16mm. See more »

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Best Friends Forever
Written by Tom Fox Davies
Performed by Tom Fox Davies
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User Reviews

 
Seeking a 'Thelma and Louise' for the End of the World

Best Friends Forever is a low-budget, part-crowd-funded film currently travelling around festivals in the USA and internationally, starring Brea Grant (who probably remains best known for playing the sparky, super-speedy Daphne in Heroes) and Vera Miao, both of whom also handled various production duties along with a predominantly female crew.

Looking to piece her life back together after a turbulent experience, Los Angeles-based Harriet (Grant) heads out one last time with best friend Reba (Miao) for grad school in Austin. Shortly after they hit the open road, however, we see a mushroom cloud billow on the distant horizon behind them. Although the girls are cheerfully oblivious at first, as they approach Texas sinister travellers emerge from the desert, tensions rise and secrets surface, not just about the nuclear disaster but also Harriet and Reba themselves, with big consequences for their friendship.

As a sci-fi road movie focused on the bond between girls, BFF is an intriguing prospect given the recent popularity of that mixture of genres and its typically male focus. Certainly, the film throws in a lot of potentially interesting elements and quirks, ranging from Harriet's unusual job as a comic book art inker to several dramatic revelations that cast the trip in a very different light. It's disappointing, then, that the film doesn't really take these ideas anywhere. In fairness, road movies are usually very episodic and therefore sometimes prone to introduce encounters and expectations only to drop them just as quickly. All the same, I couldn't help feeling there was a better, more cohesive story waiting to be told here if only the film had kept to a sharper structure and actively done something with the genre conventions it plays with. In this respect, the film it reminded me of most was Night of the Comet, a low-budget 1984 post-apocalyptic sf/horror/comedy centring on two valley girls (much better than it sounds), but BFF lacked the wit, not to mention the instant quote-ability, of this earlier movie.

Part of this weakness, sadly, comes from the fact that Harriet and Reba are not set up especially convincingly as close friends, and for the story to work for me I really needed to be invested in their relationship. Grant and Miao's performances are enjoyable, relaxed enough to be credible in themselves and not stagey, especially when it really counts. Their characters are likable, if thinly drawn. Also, Grant offers a rather different performance from her role in Heroes, at least to my recollection. It's clear that the women playing these roles must have a good friendship, but the script doesn't really allow that to shine through (more scenes with them together at the start might have helped). Several story developments and the actions needed to set them in motion also come across as heavily contrived, recalling those moments in horror films where characters do ridiculous things even when they know the risks, but lacking the same fun anticipation. It also takes the characters a remarkably long time and a lot of strange behaviour to work out what the audience already knows from a very early stage. Perhaps the film would have worked better if we were kept as much in the dark as they were and obliged to put 2 and 2 together. The tone is also very uneven in places, making BFF's refusal to poke a bit further into some aspects of its story frustrating.

It's certainly not a total loss. The risk with low-budget sci-fi is that a film will push for visuals and a scope beyond its means, but BFF wisely concentrates on character rather than special effects. The locations are very well-chosen and save for a couple of rather jarring parts the film looks and sounds good. A nice line of humour runs throughout, especially when the film toys with some apocalyptic genre expectations (watching it with a savvy audience at a sci-fi film festival was especially fun). In general the film is very competently put together. It's just the script and story that let it down, a bit of a fatal flaw in such an insistently character-driven movie.

On the one hand, Best Friends Forever is more enjoyable and much more of a crowd-pleaser (assuming the crowd is already sympathetic to light sci- fi) than some other low-budget indie debuts I've seen recently. It's also very encouraging to see a partly crowd-funded project make it to completion and have some screenings overseas. On the other, I came away from it feeling pretty unsatisfied given that it seemed to have so many interesting but unexplored details. It definitely deserves a solid showing on the festival circuit, and for a first-time sf festival goer it made a nice change from the kitschiness I was expecting, but it's unlikely to stick in your memory.


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