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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cold Fox Films & Ryan Robins' "Nobody Can Deny" -- A Subtle Slice of Romantic Comedy

"NOBODY CAN DENY" (2014)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Length- 8:00
Company: Cold Fox Films
Website:  Official

Jill (Sarah Adams) has a work crush on Cory (Brad Baker), who is moving out of town and therefore completely out of her life.  Trying her best not to despair, she searches for some way to hook up with him before he's gone forever.  At his work birthday party, he has to leave and doesn't get a chance to try the cake.

Bingo!  Armed with chocolate and a flair for baking, Jill goes in pursuit of Cory.

But, in love as in life, nothing EVER goes according to plan . . .

SUBTLETY

Texan writer/director Ryan Robins is no stranger to awards.  His previous two films, "Ostinato" and "Fish in the Sea" (which I reviewed right here on FCSFR) both won awards at the Dallas 48 Hour Film Project.  I loved them both, and was eagerly awaiting his next flick. 

While both of the aforementioned shorts were thrillers, and quite effective ones at that, "Nobody Can Deny" takes an entirely different route.  It's a quirky and quiet romantic comedy in the vein of the first season of "The Office" or Napoleon Dynamite.  With a smart script by Rebekah Maynard, it not only works, but excels.

As subtle as the film might be with its humor, it is never boring.  Part of that is the pacing -- Maynard also edited the film --  which keeps the story moving at a healthy clip, but more than that it's Robins' keen sense of composition.  The cooking sequence in particular was pitch perfect.  I loved the upside down shot of the eggs being broken, and Jill blowing her wayward hair out of her eyes.

WORKING LESS PERFECTLY

The performances were solid across the board.  I loved the awkward work banter at the beginning -- it sounded so authentic I couldn't help but smile.  Baker as Cory doesn't have many lines or much to do, but he conveys a lot about his character's introverted nature from behind the rims of his glasses.

I want to go back to mentioning the writing of this film again, because if you will notice throughout the film, every single thing is broken or breaking.  One example: the awkward, fake work relationships, which are crumbling as Cory is about to transfer to another store.  Even Jill's attempt to speak to Cory at the party is interrupted by her boss (Jose Quinones), who calls her away to complain about the overly strong coffee she made for him.  The elevator stalls.  Jill and Cory are both socially awkward and not good conversationalists, but they do the best with the parts that their maker gave them.

They TRY to do better, and it is in that trying that something beautiful might happen for our two leads.

It's thoughts like this that provide an added bit of depth for what could have played out as a by the numbers romantic comedy.

CONCLUSION

Of course, this IS a romance, and as all romances do we have the final confrontation between Jill and the object of her desire, Cory.  Adams is brilliant as Jill tries to convey what she's feeling for Cory, even though they are both socially awkward. 

Also, there's a fun cameo from Robins regular Chase Austin, who features the Film Festival's one required line of dialogue -- "I wish I had an answer for you." 

Robins and company have done it again -- in 48 hours, they've produced a short film that is professional, well written and beautifully acted and frankly more entertaining than most of the bigger budget counterparts.  I love Robins as a horror/thriller director, but his nuanced take on a quieter, more intimate film is a breath of fresh air.

I remain, as ever, excited to see what Robins can come up with next.  Good things are coming from Cold Fox Films in the future, and if you're a fan of film, you just have to applaud.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 4 / 5.   It's not easy to present a story with a beginning­, middle and end in eight minutes, and it's even harder to do it with good dialogue.  Rebekah Maynard weaves all the story elements together and lets them work themselves out, resulting in that natural conclusion that just felt right.
Directing: 4.5 / 5.  The only thing that kept this category from a perfect score is the elevator sequence.  There's a repeated "front shot" of Jill cutting to a shot of her from the side, and it kind of confused me having her face jump from the middle of the screen to far right, and then back again.  Truly though, that's a nitpicker's complaint in what is otherwise a gorgeously shot film.  Director Ryan Robins gives off just enough flash to shine without overshadowing the story.  Thanks to his impeccable eye for what his audience NEEDS to see and great cinematography by Evan Burns, visually, "Nobody Can Deny" is beautiful.
Editing: 5 / 5.  You couldn't cut this film better and the color grading is top notch and really gives "Nobody Can Deny" a Fox Searchlight-esque feel.
Sound/Music: 4 / 5.  Again, the music is simple -- from light music cues by Alex Thomas to happy, guitar oriented music that sounds like it came from Jack Johnson's younger brother (Father Sleep's "A Dream I Didn't Have" and Inara George's "Q").  Brad Baker is responsible for the sound design, and he did a great job.
Acting: 4 / 5.  Adams is always a pleasure to watch and she does a great job of being vulnerable but just brave enough to go after what she wants.  Jose Quinones plays Jerry, the asshole boss, and his "Jill?  Jill?  Jill?" had me laughing, in a Ben Stein Ferris Bueller sort of way.

Final Grade: 4.2 / 5.

DON'T MISS "Nobody Can Deny" on Vimeo and follow Ryan Robins on Facebook to stay up to date on what he's working on next!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!