At the 2009 Hell's Half Mile Film and Music Festival, Friends (With Benefits) won the crowd favorite award. Written and directed by Gorman Bechard, the film tells the story of six friends whose relationships change as they cross the line from best friends to fuck buddies. With its snappy dialogue, funny situations, creative narrative structure, and great soundtrack, it came as a surprise to many who had been uproariously laughing during the film to hear Bechard say that his work is usually quite dark. 2005's You Are Alone is a perfect example.
You Are Alone is ultimately the story of an hour between a prostitute and her customer, though it's much more complicated than that. Daphne (Jessica Bohl), who works under the name of Brittney, is a Yale-bound high school senior who has a secret life as an escort. However, her secret is discovered one day by her next-door neighbor, the middle-aged Buddy (Richard Brundage), when she shows up as the entertainment at his nephew's bachelor party. The movie is set in the hotel room where Buddy has scheduled an appointment with Daphne, though through flashbacks much more is revealed about each others' lives and what has brought them to that room that day.
Through their conversation, it is revealed Daphne and Buddy may have more in common than they first expected. Each is depressed and suffering the loss of a loved one. When Daphne asks if it gets better over time, Buddy firmly says no. The film is at turns touching, sad, funny, and disturbing, and it plays with the audience's expectations. Just when you think you know how it is going to play out, it takes a shocking turn.
The minimalistic setting, the lighting, and the camera work create a certain raw quality to the film, unlike the highly polished Friends (With Benefits). It is almost as if you are also in the room with Daphne and Buddy, directly experiencing what they are going through.
While the films are drastically different in style and tone, there are some overlapping elements between You Are Alone and Friends (With Benefits). You Are Alone, which is really one long conversation, has intelligent dialogue and even some humor that may leave you unable to eat sweet and sour chicken ever again. The actors in each film seem extremely believable and real, which may possibly be attributed to Bechard's habit of rehearsing for months before filming. And like Friends (With Benefits), You Are Alone also has a good soundtrack and effectively uses it, most notably the song "You Are Alone," written and performed by Crooked Fingers. Through these two films, Bechard has shown his range as a writer and a director and has established himself as someone to watch out for.
You Are Alone is rated R . It is available to purchase on Amazon and available to rent through Netflix and Blockbuster online. For more information on Gorman Bechard and his other projects, visit http://gormanbechard.com.
© Gina Myers, 2009