How Do You Know Chris? (MA) - 86 minutes
A low-rent Australian drama in which very little happens, How Do You Know Chris? is strictly film festival fare.
It is the year 2000.
19-year-old (nearly 20) Emi Mustafi (Tatiana Quaresma) meets Chris (Luke Cook), 28, in a laundromat.
Even though they’ve just set eyes upon one another, the copywriter invites the commerce student to a small get together he has arranged that night in his Melbourne inner-city apartment.
She turns up, but he is nowhere to be seen. He shows up more than an hour later.
Instead, there’s a bartender cum waiter, Ray (Lee Mason), serving drinks and finger food … and a collection of people who know or have known Chris.
Mind you, the first couple Emi comes across is larger than life Dubliner Dot (Lynn Gilmartin), aged 35, and her taciturn boyfriend, Mike (Travis McMahon), who doesn’t know Chris, but is there to catch up with Frankie.
Huh? Who is Frankie? Well, that is dealt with relatively early on.
Then there is Chris’ former classmate Blucker (Dan Haberfield), now confined to a wheelchair, who hasn’t seen Chris since school days.
Blucker doesn’t get along with another loyal school friend of Chris, Justin (Jacob Machin), who is attending with his partner, Claire (Ellen Grimshaw), who Blucker always fancied.
Chris’ boss Shane (Stephen Carracher) has turned up dressed as Sherlock Holmes.
Later, Chris’ mum Amanda (Susan Stevenson) puts in an appearance. Chris’ father and brother have both died.
And there’s a goth girl, Christal (Rachel Kim Cross), a druggie, who used to be Chris’ partner.
Gradually we learn more about each of them and their relationship to Chris, before he eventually says a few words to the group ... or what is left of it.
This is a guy with quite a few skeletons in his closet.
Bad to average acting aside, what is immediately obvious is the lacklustre scripting by Zachary Perez and direction from Ashley Harris
In all respects, How Do You Know Chris? is thin.
I needed to care more about the characters – to build an affinity with them.
That required far greater nuance on the part of all concerned than was forthcoming.
As it is, the characters that populate the film are more caricatures than real flesh and blood.
Too many are single dimensional.
The idea behind the mystery is sound. It is just the execution that I found lacking.
As the credits rolled, a feeling of having been underwhelmed enveloped me.
Rated M, How Do You Know Chris? scores a 5 out of 10.