Sebastian Poe (Billy Blair) is a jazz pianist who’s down on his luck. He’s just not getting the gigs he used to and it may be down to his drug addiction. The only thing keeping him going is his sister, Elsie (Lori Petty), but she has cancer and things are not looking good for her, especially as the medical bills are piling up.
To make matters worse, Sebastian owes a lot of money to a drug dealer, a crooked cop named Terry (Jason Coviello) and it’s time for him to pay up. However, this time Terry has a deal for him, all Sebastian has to do is to go where Terry tells him and to kill the person he meets there. The problem is that once he knows who he’s meant to kill, Sebastian’s night goes from bad to worse.
Tonic is a crime drama written and directed by Derek Presley. Something of a throwback which may remind the audience of film from the Seventies, Tonic tips its hat to Martin Scorsese’s work and perhaps in particular pays homage to After Hours.
Starting out with a sleazy jazz musician who has seen better days is something of a cliché and the audience may be forgiven if they try and guess the outcome. However, Presley’s script keeps things fresh and performances from Blair, Petty and others keep the pace going along.
A film which could have gone deep into the bleak nature of Sebastian’s situation, Tonic also has lighter moments which help the audience keep on his side.
Following Sebastian in seemingly real time, the camera stays with him and thankfully Blair’s performance is strong enough to keep the audience interested. A protagonist who may be difficult to root for becomes a character who’s going through the worst night of his life and the audience will still want him to see it through.
With a cast of supporting characters from different walks of life, Tonic becomes a fleshed-out world that evokes the kind of crime drama that may not get made anymore. It also may encourage audiences to seek out the films of that era where everything was so enticing and yet so grubby.
We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.