THE FARE, which recently screened as the opening festival film at FilmQuest Festival, is a romance mystery with a nod to the “Twilight Zone”. The film is directed by D.C. Hamilton and is written by Brinna Kelly, who also stars in the film alongside Gino Anthony Pesi. While many may brush off this film as a typical romance, THE FARE is anything but. If you take the time to watch the film (which honestly has a mega rewatchability factor), you will find yourself drawn in by the writing, the performances, and the cinematography, which all come together to create something truly special.
We first meet Harris (played by Gino Anthony Pesi) driving down a long stretch of barren, desert road. He’s in his taxi going through the motions of his day-to-day life, flipping through a selection of radio channels to pass the time. That is until he gets hit up the big man boss to pick up his next fare (Brinna Kelly). The catch? She wants to be picked up at a location that is practically in the middle of nowhere. Harris picks her up and discovers that she wants to be dropped off in another strange, remote location. While weird, he figures he’ll just chat with her. However, a thunderstorm soon catches him unawares and – within a flash – the customer he was just talking to has disappeared out of thin air. If that wasn’t weird enough, it isn’t until he resets his meter and slowly starts realizing that he’s in a loop of some kind that things are amiss. Thus, the mystery of THE FARE truly begins.
Part of why THE FARE is so moving is due to the strength in the chemistry between Gino Anthony Pesi and Brinna Kelly, who play characters Harris and Penny respectfully. As we watch the characters both realize that things are amiss and watch them continue to play the same loop while fervently trying to figure out answers and solutions, it’s hard not to be sucked in by their performance. The duo’s earnestness and natural handling of the dialogue enable them to bring the audience on their side. We naturally end up wanting them to have a happy end and to run off into the storm clouds where they can find their happily ever after. Gino’s performance, in particular, stands out as Harris is pretty much-seeing things from the audience’s perspective. We are discovering what is going on right alongside Harris and, when the truth of what is going on is finally revealed, Gino’s performance is what enables us to feel that excruciating heartbreak that forces us to plummet back down to reality.
However, I am not certain the film would have managed to captivate us entirely without the multi-layered script crafted with great care by Brinna Kelly. While the actors are the tool that delivers the dialogue and performance, there is no denying that on paper, the script has so many hints and clues written in to ensure that the mystery to unpack is one worth figuring out. And, one particular factor that I very much appreciated was how, once the big reveal was shown to us, that we could easily go back and play through various conversational pieces between Harris and Penny and pick up on where the clues were. Some of them are very subtle, but it is in that subtlety that the solved mystery then feels earned, which I think is the most substantial gift that this film gives its viewers.
Director D.C. Hamilton handles THE FARE with great care, tackling an ambitious film concept and bringing it to life seamlessly. Figuring out to work around the taxi is revealed by how the scenes are shot; while you get the close-ups indicating the intimacy and closeness that being in a taxi brings, there is still enough space to not overwhelm the viewer, which could have easily been an issue. Cinematographer Josh Harrison manages to create a surreal, supernatural-tinged landscape out of the desert background, capturing colors that hint to the audience of the unnatural elements present in the background of the film. Knowing that the team had to work with the nighttime shoots in order to capture the feel of moving and capture the background emphasizes the care that all took in order to bring this film to life.
Overall, THE FARE is a beautifully crafted mystery that explores the desire for connection and intimacy within the confines of a moving taxing cab. The number of details interwoven throughout the course of the film, whether through the costume designs or the cleverly written dialogue, is enough to warrant a good few re-watches of the film in order to just take everything in. You will feel yourself fall in love with the two characters so that, even when you reach the arguably heartbreaking truth, that you can’t help but completely ache for their mutual happiness. I definitely recommend this for everyone who likes a good mystery, but also if they need a moment to remind themselves of the power of connection because this movie showcases that in spades.
THE FARE will be released for a limited time in theaters this Friday, October 4th, before being released on Blu-Ray on November 19, 2019.