“Drunk Bus” is a comedy-drama, the first film of John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke. After the cancellation of the SXSW Festival last March where it was supposed to make its debut, it finally made its worldwide premiere at the San Diego International Film Festival on October 15, 2020 where it won the awards for Best Feature Film and Best Narrative Feature.
The film was recently released in select theaters and on demand (Prime Video, Apple TV).
Michael, played by Charlie Tahan, mostly known for the Netflix show Ozark, is the driver of the Drunk Bus, a late-night bus in which students from Kent Institute of Technology, Ohio, go home, drunk.
Through this job, Michael seems stuck in the past. Despite his degree, he seems unable to move forward, as if caught in an endless loop. He keeps replaying the memories of his relationship with his ex-girlfriend Amy (played by Sarah Mazzanotte), who moved to New York after graduation.
Written by Chris Molinaro, Drunk Bus is a comedy-drama that deals with issues that concern everyone, such as entering the world of work, self-confidence and fear of the unknown. Despite these rather thorny topics, the film remains relatively light and leans more towards comedy.
After an altercation with a student, Pineapple (played by Pineappel Tangaroa) shows up to provide security for the bus. But Pineapple will mainly play a role of mentor for Michael, he will help him to overcome his limits and to leave this hellish loop in which he is stuck.
The relationship between the two characters will give a good rhythm to the film and will allow the scenario to take a comic as well as tragic aspect. The duo of actors Charlie Tahan, Pineapple Tangaroa, accompanied by Kat, played by Kara Hayward (Moonrise Kingdom) and Justin (played by Tonatiuh) works very well and is one of the strengths of the film.
We can still criticize the lack of development of some characters who seemed interesting.
The film takes advantage of the cold nights and the lights of the city to make us appreciate a simple but effective photography, which participates in creating a realistic aspect despite the numerous jokes of the film.
Through this idea of an endless loop, Drunk Bus approaches the subject of depression in an original and very interesting way. For their first feature film, John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke sign a film that, despite some mistakes, works very well.
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