“Chance” is a movie about finding your way through the minefield of your twenties, when you don’t quite know who you are and you’re scared to death of finding out. Writer/director Benson plays the title character, an aimless trust-fund baby who has plenty of theories of the meaning of life, but whose life just doesn’t have much meaning. In her search for fulfillment, she tortures her neurotic roommate Simon (Marsters), endures the potential break-up of her New Ager parents (Ricketts and Estabrook), has a same-sex encounter with a narcoleptic English girl (DiFiglia), and falls in love with a handsome lounge-singer (Hallett), who turns out to be gay. Now take a good look at your own life and decide if it’s similarly complicated.
Best known for her role as “Tara” (a.k.a. “Willow’s girlfriend” for those outside the know) on the hit show “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, Benson has crafted a unique debut feature film here. She uses her A-minus-list co-stars to a great effect (particularly Marsters and former “Nikki” star Estabrook) and manages to get fun, quirky performances out of each of them. The main thing that will strike viewers – after they get past the shock of seeing the “Buffy” stars performing outside the “Buffy” realm (hey, some people have a hard time with this!) – is that “Chance” is very funny. Not just the dialogue, but the characters themselves, they’re true to themselves, even when treading the line between character and caricature, they all have their quirks, neuroses almost to the point of surrealism, but when you realize the world is being filtered through the perception of the title character and narrator, you understand where they’re all coming from. To “Chance”, many of the people around her are not “people”, per ce. They’re creatures to be endured and tolerated. The only one on Chance’s planet is Chance, and the fun is watching her realize that she’s not superior to them, and she can’t control them.
At first, “Chance” comes off like an ambitious student film, with Benson breaking the fourth wall, talking directly to the camera, and the narrative jumping all over the place before the audience is settled into the rhythm, not to mention a strolling troubadour with an acoustic guitar (composer Aaron Fruchtman). But after a few minutes of adjusting, you start to realize what an impressive achievement “Chance” really is. This was a labor of love for all involved. There’s a misconception in the world that TV actors make buckets of money, but they’re working-class joes like the rest of us. Benson scrimped and saved to make “Chance”, and everyone was paid with the “deferred payment” Monopoly money system. Shot on DV without benefit of “Frame” mode, “Chance” looks like video, but has a rich color scheme to it, both lighting-wise and in terms of art direction provided by mother Diane and sister Danielle.
For the time being, “Chance” is without a distributor, which is a shame, not just for “Buffy” fans, but for anyone who might enjoy seeing this nifty movie.