Is it in a diner that the most honesty is found? Go in, sit down, have a burger, pay the bill, and leave. Straight-forward. Honest. No strings, no nothing. The guy (Tate Donovan) in “4 A.M. Open All Night” may not realize it quite fully, but the diner he’s sitting in may be the most honest place he’ll ever find. Getting away from his girlfriend, who doesn’t believe he’s actually going out to get a burger, he keeps snatching looks at a woman (Wendy Makkena) sitting at a table diagonal from the counter. There’s something he likes about her, possibly her appearance, her voice, even both and more than that. But he can’t get the nerve up to go over there and talk to her.
Behind the counter, Jim (Rod McLachlan) tries to talk that sense into him. When he says he wants to be alone, Jim comments, “Look around you. Are you alone?” It’s that honesty that makes “4 A.M.” as comfortable as one of those all-night diners. It feels just as good also listening to Doc (Kevin Geer), who doesn’t talk much at the beginning, but what he says subsequently rings so very true, even admitting to the woman that he can figure out her life quite simply, but he doesn’t know how to work his. Doc thankfully doesn’t go into any detail about that, because that’s not what’s going on here. It’s about those chances we cower from, thinking about our current situations, wondering if we should move upon that next find, whether it is a job, a new interest in life, and even a potential lover. Tate Donovan’s character is saddled with a girlfriend, “future ex-girlfriend” as Doc refers to her, and that’s probably what holds him back from Wendy Makkena. He may have taken the wrong path, not seeing what might have been even if it didn’t pan out, but writer Bob Krakower and director J. Miller Tobin took the perfect path. They’ve not only come up with dialogue that mirrors thousands of lives, but Tobin also gets that 4 a.m. feeling down perfectly. When we’re not sleeping, we’re thinking, we’re wondering, we’re regretting. That’s life and “4 A.M. Open All Night” is full of that, with much success.