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Gap Weekend

By Benjamin Franz | November 18, 2021

Gap Weekend, written and directed by Todd Norwood, explores the relationship predicament Ben (Art Hall) has been stuck in for some time. He’s an aspiring travel blogger who has recently experienced an ugly breakup with his first and only love, Veronica (Sarah Nicklin). Fatigued from the barrage of poor first dates he’s had since his divorce, Ben places a manifesto on a site, not unlike Craigslist. In it, Ben seeks to find a woman willing to partake in a Gap Weekend — wherein the two won’t go on dates but rather get away from it all for the entire weekend. Emily (Rosie Koocher) answers Ben’s ad, and off to Santa Barbara’s Wine Country they go.

In seeking to explore Ben’s world, Gap Weekend is at once a road trip and an informal version of therapy. Both Ben and Emily are running from their lives, attempting to forget their troubles for one blissful moment. She is having difficulty with a commitment, whereas he must find a way to bring closure to his 33-year relationship with Veronica. Norwood wisely grants breathing space for both main characters as they find fulfillment.

The decision to lean into the natural beauty of Los Olivos as a location greatly enhances the sense of adventure. Going from the suburbs of Los Angeles to Coastal California, it’s clear Ben is very conversant with the incredible natural beauty on offer in the Golden State. The drama seems to be shot primarily at “the magic hour,” when the most beautiful natural light is available for filming. The natural beauty and gorgeous lighting offer this intimate road trip an ethereal quality, which enhances the questions posed and answered by Ben and Emily. Even the nighttime scenes, of which there are a few, are well lit. The composition of cinematographer Mike Barroga makes this a joy to view.

“…Ben seeks to find a woman willing to partake in a Gap Weekend — wherein the two won’t go on dates but rather get away from it all…”

Strikingly, there are no clear antagonists in Gap Weekend. The film portrays people as they exist in real life, flaws and all. People who are frail or sensitive are still fraught with vices. At one point, Sandy (capably portrayed by Nicola Graham), Ben’s sister, is found contemplating a fling with a model she went out dancing with. The conversation between brother and sister is key to Ben acknowledging where he fouled up with Veronica.

Tying this small scene to the rest of the feature, it becomes clear Ben needs to acknowledge he’s not always a victim. Growth requires one to face their mistakes and move past them by genuinely expressing remorse and offering a sincere apology. The conclusion, with all the characters showing signs of growth (more won’t be said due to spoilers), is something I found immensely satisfying.

After seeing the delightful Gap Weekend, I am left with a desire to see more of Norwood’s work. The mid-range camera work married to the amazing natural beauty available and the very effective use of natural lighting suggests he can do so very much with limited resources at his disposal. Honestly, this is a very engaging film which I have no reservations about recommending to anyone who will listen to a crusty old film librarian like me.

Gap Weekend (2021)

Directed and Written: Todd Norwood

Starring: Art Hall, Rosie Koocher, Nicola Graham, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

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"…left with a desire to see more of Norwood's work."

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