Review by Sean Boelman
Directorial debuts come in many shapes and sizes, but the best ones are those which feel like an unmistakable calling card for their creator. Daniel Antebi’s crime comedy God’s Time oozes personality in a way that may cause viewers to experience sensory overload, but will absolutely never leave them bored.
The film follows two best friends who set out on a quest across New York City to stop their mutual crush from making a mistake that will destroy her life. There’s a lot going on in this movie, and while all of the thematic and story threads aren’t fully developed, enough of them are for this to be a compelling cinematic experience.
The pacing in the movie is certainly aggressive. Even though the film is somewhat lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek in nature, it’s shot as a race-against-the-clock thriller. As a result, the movie is extraordinarily stressful. It certainly helps that Antebi does a great job of establishing the real, human stakes of the story.
Because viewers will be on the edge of their seats for so much of the runtime, the awkward humor hits so much harder. It’s classic cringe comedy — with many of the laughs being derived from the increasingly uncomfortable situations in which the characters find themselves. However, Antebi finds the perfect balance between grounded and absurd to work.
The film’s constant winking at the camera is sure to be a bit too much for some people. At times, the fourth-wall-breaking is so much that it begins to feel like Deadpool. However, there is no denying that Jeff Melanson’s tight cinematography and Brian Reitzell’s jazzy score give the movie an infectious kineticism that keeps the viewer engaged.
Antebi’s script is interesting because the protagonist isn’t the type of person an audience would generally like. He’s often outright annoying, and — as he even states in a fourth-wall breaking moment — is not what anyone would classify as “heroic.” However, in all of his flaws and overzealousness, there’s something ineffably charming about the character.
A big part of the character’s success is owed to a phenomenal performance by Ben Groh. He’s so incredibly confident and charismatic, and you can absolutely tell that the role was written for him by Entebi, as he is uncannily naturalistic. Liz Caribel is also extraordinary in her role (even if the character is a pretty clear example of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl).
God’s Time isn’t without its flaws, but it’s such a funny and intense blend of genres that it’s hard not to admire it. It’s one hell of a debut for Daniel Antebi, and if his next film is half as exhilarating as this, it’s still going to be hella entertaining.
God’s Time hits theaters and VOD on February 24.
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