Written and Directed by Matt Sadowski / Starring Dov Tiefenbach, Tommie-Amber Pirie and Zoe Kravitz
Jordan: Bravery isn’t the absence of fear. It means you know you’re afraid, and you’re scared and you’re fucking nervous and terrified, but you go ahead and do it anyway.
Sometimes you watch just the right movie at just the right time. I’ve more or less called myself a hopeless loser at least half a dozen times already today. To be fair, I haven’t slept properly in like days now so I’m extra special irritable and inadvertently hard on myself, but the random happenstance of life has brought a movie into my day to make all the bad thoughts go away. (Also, I sometimes rhyme accidentally when I’m this tired.) I’ve been meaning to see Canadian writer/director (and former Power Ranger), Matt Sadowski’s narrative feature debut, PRETEND WE’RE KISSING, for some time now. I’m glad I waited until today though because it is exactly what I needed.
The film opens on its protagonist, Benny (Dov Tiefenbach) trying to enjoy a concert. I say trying because enjoying things is a difficult task for Benny to accomplish on a good day. Benny spends a great deal of time in his head over thinking anything and everything that he encounters. I mean, the man has a poster above his head with a numbered ticket like you would get at the butcher that says “never”. He literally thinks his turn will never come and this may actually turn out to be true if he doesn’t get out of his head and into the game, of life that is. While at this concert, his gaze meets that of a pretty girl. He doesn’t speak with her but that brief eye flirtation is about to change his life.
For those of us who live in our heads, we can spend a lot of time waiting for moments like these. Sometimes, so much time is spent waiting for these moments that we start to believe that they don’t even exist. And then when they happen, we don’t have a freaking clue how to deal with them. This is the awkward magic that PRETEND WE’RE KISSING captures for our amusement. At times, the film is more awkward than it is magical but such is life too. Fortunately, Sadowski’s script has plenty of laughs that will catch you off guard and that alleviate the tension before it ever gets unbearable.
Getting out of our holes, our heads, and the walls we’ve constructed around ourselves is never easy. We may not even be all that great at being our selves once we get out there but the important thing is get out there all the same no matter what. PRETEND WE’RE KISSING is a promising debut that, while rough around the edges, reminds us that putting ourselves out there, no matter how scary that may be, is the only way we will ever catch a glimpse of happiness. And with that, I think I need to go outside.
Don’t miss your chance to see the Toronto shot PRETEND WE’RE KISSING when it screens in Toronto as part of the Open Roof Festival on Wednesday, July 22. For more information, please visit the Open Roof Festival website.