Kat (Tara Karsian) is not having a happy birthday. The birthday dinner orchestrated by her friends and Mom has turned into the latest episode of “What’s Wrong with Kat that She Can’t Keep a Man.” The impromptu roast highlights, of course, her latest failure in sustaining a romantic relationship. She is surrounded by people who love her so much, that they feel compelled to openly dissect what is wrong with her, and her Mom (Pat Carroll) is the ringmaster.
Miraculously, she makes a clean getaway before dessert, departing to her apartment where she can drown her sorrows in a large glass of red wine with her best friend Samantha (Andrea Grano). They commensurate over failed loves while Sam sorts through the birthday gifts for items she wants (an apparent ritual with Kat’s gifts). It seems like a stroke of genius, when Sam talks Kat into going to the paid couple therapy retreat weekend Kat’s mother purchased for her. The weekend away would be great; there was a pool. And even as they both reluctantly agree, they each concede maybe, possibly, but not likely, they would actually get something out of all that stuff.
The women arrive at the resort to find that Sam has assigned social anxiety disorder to her “partner” Kat, as one of the reason they chose to go on the retreat. Out of fairness, Kat assigns Sam with nymphomania. Alas, the palpable tension between a loving couple in trouble is manifest!
The New Age Owners of the retreat, Jacqueline & Bob (Sigrid Thornton, Patrick O’Connor), are predictably squishy in their approach (Their workshop is called The Closer to Closeness Weekend). Kat & Samantha discover they will be spending their weekend with four other couples, all there for more than a quiet weekend by the pool. JK & Jonah (Sean Maher, Russell Sams) are there to workout the “to adopt or not to adopt” question. David & Rebecca (Dan Gauthier, Molly Hagan) are a couple who have grown apart, trying to find their way back to each other, or not. Scott & Chloe (Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Larisa Oleynik) are the class clown and school principal bound in matrimony. Finally, Suzie & Kent (Jenny O-Hara, Richard Moll) are the repeat vacationers, the baby bloomers who are in a perpetually honeymoon phase.
As the weekend progresses, one by one each couple experiences their own episode which results in a break through or a breakup. Kat & Samantha discover that all the drama surrounding them is actually having an effect on them; something is happening between them.
Are the fake feelings that they are experiencing a result of play-acting at being a lesbian couple? Or are they tapping into feelings buried deep in their life long friendship? And either way, what the frick are they going to do about it without getting discovered by their camp mates?
So, I was expecting a girls “Hump Day”, right? I was so wonderfully wrong about that. BFFs is Great. Classier. Subtler. This film dances sweetly and smartly back and forth across the line of comedy and drama. At first, one would think it would be easy to see the jokes coming… wrong! You won’t know where this story is going, even if we all can guess the eventual outcome. Honestly, you won’t see the jokes coming until you are leaning back in your chair laughing out loud. The ride is fun and fresh.
If there are no beefy roles for strong women, write some! That is exactly what leading ladies Andrea Grano and Tara Karsian have done with Kat & Samantha. All the characters, but the leads in particular, are drawn to be flawed, not scarred, making them both relatable and authentic.
The crafting of BFFs is very clean. The camera work is very status, focusing on performances and movement within the frame, rather than making the camera a voyeur in the unfolding story. It is a good choice for the simplicity of the story. There are no discernable visual effects, and yet the pacing of the film does not suffer from the absence of this convention. It’s brave filmmaking on the part of director Andrew Putschoegl that proves to be quite successful. BFFs is a collage solid performers telling a sweet fairy tale.
BFFs is a simmering, smart comedy that boils over with laughs at all the right moments. Treat yourself and go see this film. Take YOUR BFF; then afterwards, kiss and see if You can tell.
BFFs is an official selection of the 32nd Outfest LGBT Film Festival happening July 10th through July 20th, 2014.