Whiskey Sour Image

Whiskey Sour

By Andrew Stover | May 3, 2022

Writer-director Christopher Selby’s Whiskey Sour is not by any means a showy character drama. Instead, the movie is self-contained and purposefully staid, relying on the uninhibited conversation between two middle-aged friends as its driving force.

Business consultant Cal Baker (Sean Dillingham) lives a quiet life in Phoenix. He was recently offered a life-changing job promotion but is unsure whether he should accept it out of fear of change or possibly failure. Cal meets with his friend, a Rabbi (Dan Weisgerber), at a bar, and these anxieties come to light. The Rabbi more or less says that Cal must decide what’s right for him.

Suffice to say, the man is unmoved, and he is just as unsure as he was before their talk. After returning home, Cal gets a voicemail from an old friend named Joe Dreyfuss (Richard O. Ryan). Joe says that he’s in town for a few days, so they should meet up for a drink to ruminate on old times. Cal agrees, but the friends open themselves up to scrutiny in doing so.

The first twenty minutes or so of Whiskey Sour are the most meandering because viewers don’t know much about Cal. Later on, through conversations with other characters, we learn more about his job, love life, and passions. As a result, there isn’t much momentum initially, but that changes once Joe surfaces.

“…offered a life-changing job promotion but is unsure whether he should accept it out of fear of change…”

For a dialogue-heavy film such as this, it is imperative that all the lines help advance the plot, characters, or themes so that the movie leaves an impression. In this case, the mundanity or simplicity of the dialogue provides the foundation of Cal and Joe’s friendship nicely. But it is when they are most comfortable that their vulnerabilities start to seep through. Issues are dredged up from the past, thus forcing the friends to contemplate their version of the truth. Throughout, Cal refrains from saying anything of too much substance, thinking it will be misconstrued, while Joe upholds a guise of machismo to avoid confronting the truth.

While not every line throughout Whiskey Sour is necessary, especially when it comes to the Rabbi, the two lead actors give it their all to make even the most rambling scenes feel more impactful. Sean Dillingham gives a compelling performance as the reserved Cal, knowing when a sigh or gaze will convey more than any word. Richard O. Ryan is just as good at playing Joe, bringing a cocksure attitude to the character to convince the viewer that Joe is hiding something.

Cal and Joe’s time together leads to an emotional conclusion about regret. A last-minute reveal bolsters the idea that everyone has something to hide, but it feels tacked on. I understand what Selby was going for, but the ending is unable to tap into the emotions and headspace of the characters effectively.

Whiskey Sour looks at two middle-aged men dealing with stifled emotions, dubious truths, and internal wounds that have yet to heal fully. What the movie lacks in visual and narrative movement makes up for with fascinating characters who are either lying to each other or themselves.

For screening information, visit the Whiskey Sour official website.

Whiskey Sour (2022)

Directed and Written: Christopher Selby

Starring: Sean Dillingham, Richard O. Ryan, Alma Schofield, Jessica Whitman, Tonya Adamski, Dan Weisgerber, etc.

Movie score: 6/10

Whiskey Sour  Image

"…self-contained and purposefully staid..."

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