I should probably preface this review with the fact that I love cheesy drama shows that borderline on being soap operas. One ticket to Shondaland, please! After that take me to Beverly Hills 90210. I love over the top melodrama with all sorts of ridiculous secrets, affairs, tragedies, etc. For this reason, I really enjoyed Sarah Jayne and Ivan Malekin’s Melbourne, Australia based Friends, Foes, & Fireworks. The film essentially boils down the essence of an entire season of prime-time network drama and distills it to an hour and fifteen-minute movie. Granted, I know that this will not appeal to everyone, but you’re talking to someone who watches at least two episodes of Grey’s Anatomy every day.
“It doesn’t take long on the day of the party for things to start to get weird…”
Not much big action happens in Friends, Foes & Fireworks, which works out in the crew’s favor as this film does not have a big budget. It’s essentially a hangout movie, full of gossip, confessions, and a lot of alcohol. The film is set on New Year’s Eve, where Fiona Day (Lara Deam) is hosting a New Year’s Eve party with her closest group of girlfriends. They all knew each other from an acting class taught by Sofia Bianchi (Genya Mik). In addition to Sofia and Fiona, there is the budding playwright, Summer Alba (Asleen Mauthoor), the yet-to-be-working actress Zoe Cross (Jess Riley), and the only one of the group to become a working actress under Sofia’s tutelage; Lucinda Lee (Whitney Duff).
It doesn’t take long on the day of the party for things to start to get weird. When Lucinda arrives, she has an uninvited guest who’s also the only man present, Taron Wilkinson (Daniel Hill). People seem confused and taken aback by his presence. Everyone seems to have at least one catty thing to say to either him or each other. Through the conversations had over the course of the evening, we discover why everyone acted as they did in the first act. It’s formulaic, but in my opinion, it’s a formula that works. There are complex revelations made throughout and the overarching point seems to be in this one line from Fiona, “You can’t plan anything in life, can you? It just has its own little tricky way about it, doesn’t it?”
“It’s formulaic, but in my opinion it’s a formula that works…”
Friends, Foes, & Fireworks isn’t anything groundbreaking, but the dialogue is on par with an episode of Melrose Place and that’s awesome in my mind. There are grandiose declarations of love, a life-threatening illness, a pregnancy, a coming-out story, etc. This is a great movie to watch while eating ice cream and decompressing from a stupid day at work. It’s a good first feature for Sarah Jayne. It will be interesting to see what she can do with a bigger budget because this was pretty damn entertaining for an Australian microbudget drama, warts (the sound isn’t that great, the opening titles are unbearably cheesy) and all.
Friends, Foes, & Fireworks (2018) Produced and Directed by Ivan Malekin & Sarah Jayne. Starring Lara Deam, Whitney Duff, Asleen Mauthoor, Genya Mik, Jess Riley, and Daniel Hill.
6.5 out of 10 stars