CFF Review: Meghan Leon and Brad Baruh’s ‘Night Drive’
Meghan Leon and Brad Baruh’s “Night Drive” is a darkly humorous thriller that draws you in with it’s characters along with presenting some interesting questions before bringing it all together in an absurd final act with a creative and unsuspecting twist. There’s some solid cinematography, especially in the driving shots, and great performances elevated by the excellent chemistry between the two leads. This all feeds into the tension very well, while still providing plenty of laughs via the dark situational humor sprinkled throughout.
Just as he’s about to head home late one night, a middle-aged ex-software developer turned ride share driver named Russell decides to pick up one last passenger before turning in. In hops a mystifying young woman name Charlotte who, after quickly sliding him some cash and asking him to drive her around “off the clock” will turn his night, as well as his entire life upside down over the course of this eighty-two minute runtime. The less you know going in the better, as the surprises the movie springs on the viewer really heighten the experience.
It’s great to see AJ Bowen anytime he’s on screen, with this being no exception as he does a great job bringing some emotional depth to Russell and making him a likable, relatable guy overall despite his arrogant (sorry Brad) choice in automobile. AJ has a fantastic chemistry with Sophie Dalah, who puts in a great performance of her own as the enigmatic Charlotte. It’s the relationship between these two that really drives (puns, though) the film, and the viewer is given a lot of characterization via the smartly written dialogue. This really adds to the tension since you’ve been given time to relate and a reason to care about the people you’re following on this wild ride.
There could’ve been a little more added to the end that might’ve brought something to the experience, but it ends on such a perfect note after the events that have taken place it likely would’ve just ruined the magic of the moment due to technical or financial limitations. The film only had a budget of $300,000 so what they were able to accomplish within that constraint is pretty impressive considering the convincingly realized, high stakes events that take place in it.
Overall, “Night Drive” is a funny, engaging thriller with a short runtime that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, complete with great performances, good camerawork and an exciting, well written narrative. If you’d like to take the drive yourself you can do so now on Tubi and VOD.
P.S. – This Q&A provides some excellent insight into the film’s production.