As I remember Comfort and its subtle charms, I find myself smiling, as it’s a sweet, unassuming movie full of the unexpected. The film features an irresistibly likeable pair of lead characters as they get to know one another despite being hamstrung by factors in each of their respective lives. Epilogue aside, the film takes place over 24 hours, leaving our duo a few scant hours to successfully navigate through their feelings and their peccadilloes before their time’s up.
The premise may sound familiar, a little like Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise (and the resulting sequels) or Harold Jackson III’s Last Night, but Comfort makes its own case to be counted as different from these previous productions. Writer/director William Lu’s screenplay may seem a bit clichéd and hammy at times, which at times is exacerbated by lagging editing, but the two leads are charismatic enough to assuredly carry the film toward its destination.
One of those two leads is Cameron (Chris Dinh), a Los Angeles-based courier working the night shift, making runs for everyone from a pawn shop to his company’s best client, the wealthy Martin (Kelvin Han Yee), father and burgeoning hot sauce entrepreneur. We see he doesn’t really like what he’s doing, but it affords him work on his own schedule and also gives him time to follow his passion: food. Cameron’s a self-possessed old soul, enjoying the people doing business with him more than the business itself. He and Martin share a friendship that goes beyond courier/customer – so much so that Martin asks Cameron to pick up his recent college-grad daughter Jasmine (Julie Zhan) at the airport because he’s too busy with launching his hot sauce brand.
Yup… it’s as tried and true as the cycles of the sun. The princess and the pauper. Their differences are sharply delineated by her cold reception to him, wondering why she wasn’t picked up in a sedan or a van. Instead, she has to ride shotgun in a beater belonging to a “delivery boy” (her words, not mine), and she’s also fed up with her no-show father, all of which she takes out on Cameron in their first conversation together. But we see her spunk and a little bit of a good spirit come through her gruffness, which prompts Cameron to attempt a hard reboot on the night so far.
What follows is a lot of typical getting-to-know-you moments between a young couple, even though they’re nowhere near “couple status.” Zhan’s breezy, easy portrayal of the lively Jasmine meshes well with Dinh’s calm, collected Cameron, creating a charm which transcends the trappings of Comfort’s script. The curveball which Lu hints at in the beginning of the film and hits us with in the middle adds a nice touch to Cameron’s character, even though it might have thrown me into a weird “what kind of movie is this?” place for a little bit. (No, I never thought it was a vampire movie… much…)
Of course, as you’d expect in such a film, there has to be conflict, which comes at Martin’s hands. It comes as one of the lessons Comfort tries to teach us: to enjoy those you love, no matter if you’re busy. You have to make time for what and whom you hold dear, and all three of the players try to learn that lesson before it’s too late. It’s a film with good intentions and equally good (if a little flawed) execution. Lu has a firm grasp on what it takes to make a good movie, and he has one in Comfort; it’ll be interesting to see what he cooks up next.
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