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First Look Review - FARE

A cab driver gives a ride to the man responsible for the breakup of his marriage.





Review by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)

Directed by: Thomas Torrey

Starring: Thomas Torrey, Katherine Drew, JR Adduci, Pat Dortch, Sloan Stewart



The film is shot as interestingly as a story set almost entirely in the inside of a car could be, with Torrey’s camera meticulously creating expressive space for and between characters. Torrey himself is very good too, with candy blue eyes that are naturally communicative. However, perhaps I’m hard hearted, but the first half of Fare gets too gridlocked in the traffic of Eric’s failed relationship.


The use of the taxi as an existential metaphor in modern cinema is a pertinent application, involving as it does a character often removed from the action of the narrative at large, and who is therefore doomed only to witness and facilitate others’ destinies; much like the audience themselves, remotely observing action from the screen of the cinema. Always in motion, but never advancing, the intensity of the drivers’ situation eventually magnifies to both motivate and expose character (as evidenced by the real life trend of cars/cabs as interview loci by Jerry Seinfeld et al). Fave cinema cabbies include Jamie Foxx’s unwilling accomplice in Collateral, creepy Vincent D’Onofrio in Jennifer Lynch’s overlooked Chained, and the doyen of cheerless chauffeurs, Travis Bickle of Taxi Driver: a disparate company, skirting through urban scenarios, discerning the world from a subjective, often distorted, distance.


And so we come to Thomas Torrey’s Fare, and cabbie Eric (also played by Torrey, who impressively does it all: writer, director, producer). Eric is a beleaguered soul; heartbroken following the break-up of his marriage due to wife Audrey’s (Katherine Drew) infidelity, he scours the streets of a vivid Carolina in search of fares and ersatz life coaching from his myriad of passengers.

From the blokey opening soundtrack to an agonisingly long held close up of Eric looking all angsty, Fare primes us for an introspective character study of masculinity. And sure enough, for the first half of the film (the picture’s weakest), we follow Eric as he picks up fares who function as reflections of his situation; there is an entrepreneur juggling marriage and his business, along with some dickish office lads on their way to a strip club, whose misogyny and entitlement intensifies Eric’s sense of injustice. But there is also a mystical Irish chap who mutters oblique gnosticisms concerning love, nuptials and the will to power, the sort of philosophical mutterings more suited to late night bar sessions than a broad daylight commute: ‘to fight for is to fight against’, he advises in whimsical brogue.


The film is shot as interestingly as a story set almost entirely in the inside of a car could be, with Torrey’s camera meticulously creating expressive space for and between characters. Torrey himself is very good too, with candy blue eyes that are naturally communicative. However, perhaps I’m hard hearted, but the first half of (the admittedly very short) Fare gets too gridlocked in the traffic of Eric’s failed relationship, and I began to wonder if we’d ever reach our destination… But then, as chance would have it, Eric happens to pick up the fella whom Audrey has been sleeping with.

The second half of Fare shifts up a few gears. While Eric is in control of the situation, the other man (Patrick, J.R. Adduci) has no idea who his driver actually is as Eric slowly, surely grills him about his sexism and casual approach to marriage destruction. Day melts to night and the cinematography flips to the outside of the rural country roads that Eric is pursuing, the sort of high-beams upon cold asphalt shots that always look ominously impressive.


The pressure of Patrick and Eric’s contentious dialogue is ratcheted when Eric swings by Audrey’s place to pick her up too, and this is before we get to the authentically chilling denouement (which comes from nowhere, and is all the more unsettling for it). As the film’s pace revs from mopey to mania, and Eric realises the meaning of ‘fighting for’, Fare effects the tight dynamics of a horror, and is all the more gripping for it. Consider the slow start an epilogue, an idle in the rank before a brief, breakneck detour down a dark thriller highway.
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