Sometimes, filmmaking is simply rooted directly within the DNA of a given artist. Be it various artists from outside the film world jumping behind the camera (I’m looking at you lead singer of the pop group Belle And Sebastian, Stuart Murdoch, whose debut feature God Help The Girl is an absolute triumph) or those who may come from a long line of artists, there are a few cases where it feels as though artistry oozes from these men and women.
Take Max Nichols for example. The director’s debut film, Two Night Stand, has arrived this week, and while the premise may sound like a relatively standard romantic comedy, Nichols is far from your standard comedy director. If the last name sounds familiar, you’re probably on to something, as Max Nichols is the son of legendary filmmaker Mike Nichols, and this debut feature brings with it two of today’s most compelling young talents from in front of the camera, in Analeigh Tipton and Miles Teller. Have your attention yet?
Nearing the start of a new year, Megan (Tipton) is at a crossroads. Without a job, a steady relationship and starting to run her course as her friend Faiza’s (Jessica Szohr) roommate, Megan decides to troll an online dating website akin to outlets like Tindr or OK Cupid. On a whim she messages the engaging Alec (Teller) and heads over to his place where the two share a one night stand. However, this becomes a seemingly regrettable event given what follows, as a blizzard forces the pair to stay in for yet another day and night in each other’s company. Over the span of their hours together their relationship is not only born, but features all the peaks and valleys any relationship is bound to have. This just so happens to pack them into a roughly 24 hour period of time. And while that sounds like a relatively standard place for a modern romantic comedy to go, in the hands of Nichols, and his great lead couple, it becomes a charming look at modern romance.
Aesthetically, the film is quite warm and engaging. Featuring beautiful, soft cinematography and a run of the mill but serviceable score, the film is shot like an independent romantic comedy, but has an energy to it that’s rare in this current comedy climate. Nichols and screenwriter Mark Hammer have a way with this type of narrative that turns cliche into something that feels tried but equally true and real, and ultimately despite a few set pieces that lean a bit too heavy on cliches (take a sex scene that’s as bland as it is cartoonishly glossy and cleanly shot), it’s a beautifully made rom-com.
It also helps that the cast here is not only magnetic but get at a few deep seeded truths about modern “dating.” Teller and Tipton are revelations here, once again proving that the next generation of actors is going to do right by the medium. Hammer’s script has the occasional flat beat here and there, but the chemistry between Teller and Tipton is real and palpable. The final act here is entirely a paint by numbers piece of fiction work, but the pair elevate the floundering last 15 minutes with an ease behind each word spoken, making real music out of Hammer’s writing. Szohr is fun as Tipton’s right hand woman, and while Scott Mescudi, best known as rapper Kid Cudi, is saved for comedic relief, even he has a moment or two to show off his chops.
Overall, while the film is treading ground that has been well traveled previously, Nichols, writer Mark Hammer and his solid cast take the idea of a modern one night stand, and get at some rather intriguing truths that usually get overlooked. Be it the idea of what it’s like to meet someone online hoping to spark a relationship, or what happens when the idea of possibly never seeing this person again becomes a key to unlocking the ability to be open and free with someone, the creative team here unlock a few intriguing themes in the body of a standard issue romantic comedy. A perfect date movie, this should be one that makes a rather big splash with the college demographic as it makes its theatrical run, starting this weekend, with a stint on VOD starting and the beginning of October.