Truth Serum Image

Truth Serum

By Ethan Padgett | June 20, 2024

Parties provide interesting fodder for study into behavior. They are either an opportunity to mingle and form connections or a place where people hide their true selves. Vika Evdokimenko’s Truth Serum shows how a party can go horribly wrong in this crass British comedy.

The film follows Abbie (Olivia Vinall) as she is throwing a party for family, friends, and co-workers. Tension is rising as she believes her husband, Matt (Killian Coyle), is having an affair. As guests arrive, things go relatively smoothly for a while. It goes south when Jimmy (Richard Gadd), Abbie’s womanizing and substance-abusing friend while rummaging for drugs in the house, discovers a vile of a strange drug. He takes it and discovers it is a truth serum, as he becomes brutally honest. Matt notices he looks off, yet Jimmy suavely convinces him and his “girlfriend” (Umi Meyer) to take the drug. As the night goes on, Jimmy sneaks the drug into drinks. This creates chaos as the guests begin to act strangely and become vulgar.

“…follows Abbie as she is throwing a party for family, friends, and co-workers.”

The truth serum acts as a plot thread that brings us closer to the characters’ personal lives. Abbie learns the truth about her sister (Sophie Kennedy Clark), who is a single mom. One of her friends, Benji (Danny Ashok), opens up to Matt’s “girlfriend” about his career accomplishments. Will Abbie and Matt begin to learn the truth about their relationship? Is Matt really having an affair?

Oliver Shuster’s screenplay creates a tone that combines quirky comedy, utilizing the ensemble formula, as seen in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out and George Cukor’s Dinner at Eight. It is an effective dramedy that does not bother making the characters exaggerated caricatures. These characters feel like people you could meet anywhere. Olivia Vinall makes Abbie feel relatable with all her insecurities. There is a recurring visual of her wanting to hide her bad haircut by wearing a hat. This hat squashes her long blonde mane, which symbolizes a “mask” hiding her real self. It is a great visual element that pays off in the end.

At the same time, the film is well-paced at 21 minutes. The pacing feels like a feature-length drama, which works due to the character-driven editing by Monika Radwanska and Nicolas Gaster. Vika Evdokimenko’s film is worth watching because its intriguing ensemble takes the story in an unexpected yet satisfying direction.

Truth Serum (2024)

Directed: Vika Evdokimenko

Written: Oliver Shuster

Starring: Umi Meyer, Richard Gadd, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Olivia Vinall, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Truth Serum Image

"…Jimmy…while rummaging for drugs…discovers a vile of a strange drug."

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