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Thursday, August 10, 2017

FACE 2 FACE -- Movie Review by Porfle

So, when seriocomic cyber-drama FACE 2 FACE (2016) started out as two childhood friends reuniting online after many years, with the whole thing taking place on their webcams and iPhones and the dialogue all fluffy and cutesy and coy, I thought I was in for an ordeal of unendurable boredom. 

Thankfully, however, it gets better as we get to know these initially shallow characters--he, a lonely, friendless gamer nerd named Teel (Daniel Amerman, COLLEGE MUSICAL, "Arrested Development"), and she, an outgoing bundle of teen energy named Madison (Daniela Bobadilla, TEXAS HEART, MOTHERS OF THE BRIDE)--who eventually get to know one another well enough to suss out each other's weak points, insecurities, etc. and try to fix them.

For her, it means getting Teel to admit he's a friendless gamer nerd and do wild things like joining Facebook and auditioning for parts in school plays even though his mom wants him to be a jock.  For him, it means helping her appreciate her natural qualities and identifying various behavioral traits and social interactions that are in serious need of a tune-up.

It threatens to be a feature-length meet-cute at first, which much of the early section pretty much is.  But little by little, things start to get more serious, and that's when Teel and Madison begin to delve into one another's lives in depth.  Not surprisingly, this also makes the story that much more fun and involving for us.

In fact, FACE 2 FACE reaches a point somewhere along the way where we stop noticing the whole "found footage"-esque premise so much and just start following the story.

Director and co-writer (with brother Aaron) Matthew Toronto helps open things up as much as possible by switching to mobile cams now and then to catch outside action such as Teel getting beaten up by school thugs or Madison having way too much "fun" at wild parties to over-compensate for serious troubles in her personal life. 

There are a couple of plot twists to spice things up, one of which should come as no surprise to absolutely anyone (except Madison, who obviously isn't as perceptive as we thought), and another which I did find rather startling.  Both contribute greatly to giving the story a depth and gravitas that the initial scenes don't hint at, setting us up for the big finish. 

Of course, we're left to wonder if Teel and Madison would hit it off romantically if not separated by thousands of miles and limited only to contact in the digital realm.  This question, as you probably guessed, will be answered sooner or later, in somewhat predictable but still satisfying fashion. 

Performances by the leads are quite good.  Then again, they'd have to be in order for these two actors to carry the entire film with nothing but their faces and voices for much of the running time.  Mary Gordon Murray shows up a few times as Teel's overbearing mother, and we see various boyfriends and girlfriends here and there, but most of the other characters are fleeting background figures. 

FACE 2 FACE restricts itself to an unwieldy format from the start and then does its best to make it engaging and cinematic for us.  It succeeds to a pleasing degree, mainly because the lead characters and their stories have a way of growing on us until we actually care what happens to them next.

Type: DVD/Digital HD
Running Time: 88 min.
Rating: N/A
Genre: Drama
Aspect Ratio: 1.85
Audio: 5.1 Surround Sound
Release Date: August 15


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