Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Comfort: Make the Nights Count

It is like Before Sunrise, but with extreme photosensitivity. When the sun finally rises, it will cause Cameron Le physical pain, but he will still try to make the most of his brief nights with a client’s daughter in William Lu’s Comfort (trailer here), which releases today on VOD, presumably in honor of Jack Benny’s birthday.

Cameron has Erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP), so he avoids the sun’s UV rays like the plague. He works the graveyard shift for a crummy 24-hour delivery service, pretty much guaranteeing he won’t meet anyone. Yet, one night, a regular customer, Martin the workaholic hot sauce magnate, hires Cameron to pick up his daughter from the airport. Initially, she is rather put off by Cameron’s slacker appearance, but she soon finds he is easy to talk to.

In fact, they spend most of the night together dining and chatting, but right when things are about to take a romantic turn, the rising sun forces him to abruptly end things. Yet, even if Jasmine understood his condition, it presumably would not change the things much, given she leaves for Japan and a one-year English-teaching commitment the following morning.

You could dismiss Comfort as another Linklater-inspired ships-passing rom-com, but Cameron’s necessarily nocturnal life gives it a darker, more melancholy and Edward Hopper-esque vibe. The chemistry of the two pseudo-romantic leads is also intoxicatingly potent. Chris Dinh (from Crush the Skull) and Julie Zhan are obviously photogenic, but they also convey a sense that each has put up with a lot of disappointments in life. Viewers will want to see them work something out somehow, even though we all realize their circumstances are too complicated for simplistic endings.

Lu’s treatment of Cameron’s EPP is issues is sensitive, but realistic. He nicely walks the line dividing bittersweet romance from maudlin sentimentality, throwing in some bonus food porn in the form of the gourmet “comfort food” Cameron periodically whips up. Yet, it is the smoky heat Zhan and Dinh generate that really drives the film. Recommended who enjoy Brief Encounter-like romantic drama, Comfort is now available on VOD platforms, including iTunes.