Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Five guys starring in a movie are sitting at a bar talking like “real people” do. Within moments, characters are fleshed out, conflicts are locked and loaded and you understand fairly quickly where things are headed. If you’re indeed stopping me because you’ve heard this one before, you’d be sorry because Korey Coleman’s feature film “2 A.M.” starts that way, but goes off in some truly unique and interesting directions.
At a downtown bar, the aforementioned five friends are drinking and talking trash. Within moments we meet the groups jackass friend, Jafo who’s always low on cash. He’s also chock full of crap but never quits trying to impress…or borrow money. There’s the truculent friend Carol and fun, party type dudes Hendley and Keith. The there’s the unofficial leader, the go to guy that is a necessity in any functioning group of friends, the imperfect best friend, Les. He’s the one who lends Jafo money, keeps the party ever moving and makes sense when he talks. One of many ways “2 A.M.” differs is that, this group of friends is comprised of black and white men and it’s never even brought up in the film. It’s as if (gasp!) black and white people can be friends for no other reason than they enjoy each others company. This is just one of the many small but pleasant surprises in the film.
After all the characters are set up, they sort of all wander off into separate adventures. While each character’s night turns out very different, the jumbled storylines sometimes get a little convoluted. While I’m never opposed to a writer shaking things up structure wise, I couldn’t help but think the story might have been better told via a straightforward narrative rather than the jumpy “Pulp Fiction” style. Even so, the film looks pretty darn good and it was clearly shot on the cheap. There’s also some fun special effects sequences that come off really well. Through it all though, it’s the excellent acting and smart writing that makes “2 A.M.” so watchable.
Korey Coleman (who also wrote, directed and edited the film) as Les is solid as the groups flawed leader. He and his longtime girlfriend are on the skids and I really like the way Coleman wrote his character to seem real. As I said, he’s far from perfect, but he’s well defined and everything he does makes sense in the context of the film. Also outstanding are Jeremy Denzlinger as the grumpy Carol and his “one night stand” Joey played by Sonya Tsuchigane. Both of these characters have some deep seated issues that come heavily into play in their roles. In the hands of new or unsure actors, these issues could be hackneyed. However both actors are simply great and Coleman should be commended for writing something edgy and different.
“2 A.M.” isn’t a perfect film, but there’s quite a lot to be admired of here. I look forward to seeing what Coleman does next and I really believe Sonya Tsuchigane is someone to watch.