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By Bill Arceneaux | February 16, 2017

Fare could be described, if written by a more satirical writer than I, as something like Scenes From a Marriage meets You’re Next. Or, perhaps more accurately, as a literal Affair to Remember. It’s a horror of sorts, scary with anxiety and too wide awake righteousness. To fully elaborate on this summation would be to undercut the surprise and impact Fare is sure to have on unsuspecting viewers, who settle in for a domestic and blue collar dramedy and nothing more. Certainly, they are going to be vastly swerved and positively impressed by the end. I know I was.

Directed by and starring (in the lead role) Thomas Torrey, Fare is Kevin Smith lite, in Red State mode. Which is to say “out of comfort zone” mode. Billed with the gimmick of being filmed in a single car over three days, the movie feels both confined to a short subject and well prepared to execute over just barely feature length running time. Confinement is a good word here, because the premise is as much stuck in the car as the camera is, so to speak. I’m uncertain how much dialogue was scripted versus being improvised, but I’d venture to guess that, with limitations brought on by the concept and production time, the few actors on screen had to stretch conversation to the breaking point. And they do. To almost no end. Such actions would hurt any other independent film, but Torrey and his crew have enough patience and persistence to brave on and gird their loins – in a way, the “limitations” of one setting, small cast and little time to finish are more freeing than restricting.

Torrey plays Eric, a down on his luck rideshare driver, currently on the road to keep his mind away from an unsuccessful career and a failing marriage. But, of course, it’s not working. One of his first fares is a heavily accented Irish (?) man, who spins whimsically about philosophy and love, suggesting that while it might not matter in the long run, relationships and romances are worth fighting for. He is the only passenger to sit in the front passenger seat, suggesting both an importance of his sage like messages and a prophecy for the haunting nature the film ultimately takes on. Eric is played as nice but insecure. Every bit of small talk he has is filled with a need to fill the void of silence with noise, probably to drown out his self loathing thoughts and the reality of his home life. If these moments feel unnatural or forced, it’s because they are, but in the good way. The intentional way. With Eric, you’ll get a false bro-ship for the time spent in his car. A pleasant falseness, but still.

Later in the evening, Eric picks up the man he suspects is sleeping with his wife. It’s a slow burn reveal that is unfortunately given away on the IMDB synopsis, but nevertheless filled with heightened tension, as their chat turns from friendly to revelatory and aggressive. This scene is an example of Fare’s flare for stretching while holding and retaining structure. It’s given all the more style and depth by the use of stop lights and shadows, appearing and disappearing to match the emotions and words of the characters. As the driver becomes more unhinged, the automobile begins to reflect this back at us, through rear view mirror eye contact and the colors and sounds of the street. It really makes up for all of the f bombs relied upon (a common nitpick of mine with indies).

Beyond character study and beneath thrills and chills, there could be more that Fare is trying to say and express, specifically about grown up Generation X-ers. Could be, mind you. This is no Clerks II, of course (what is?). The Kevin Smith lite moniker is meant in the best way possible, especially Red State era Smith. Fare takes chances – most work – and never looks back. It’s always moving (or driving) forward, even when Eric isn’t in thought or heart. If you find yourself laughing, either out of stress or if you find certain points genuinely funny, don’t worry – I believe the scenario in the movie perfectly falls under the “series of unfortunate events” heading. You won’t be chuckling for long though, unless it’s out of sheer shock. When a sequence is scored with screeching compositions and lit only by headlights, you’ll probably stop your reveries and become glued to the screen. I know I did. I know I was.

Fare (2016) Director: Thomas Torrey. Writer: Thomas Torrey. Stars: Thomas Torrey, Katherine Drew, J.R. Adduci

3.5 out of 5

Fare is in theaters February 21st, 2017. 

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