The Movie Waffler New Release Review (VOD) - COMFORT | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (VOD) - COMFORT

A courier is tasked with spending an evening with his boss's daughter.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: William Lu

Starring: Chris Dinh, Julie Zhan, Kelvin Han Yee

In William Lu’s honeyed romance Comfort, Los Angeles is a nocturnal wonderland, a neon arcadia of shimmering late night treasures waiting to be discovered by beautiful young things. And it’s just as well that this city of night never sleeps, as Comfort’s leading man Cameron (Chris Dinh) is photosensitive and therefore fatally allergic to the relentless swathes of sunshine that characterise daytime L.A. (is it me or has he chosen literally the worst place to live ever?). Sweet-natured Cameron finds gainful employment as a courier, spending his working nights zipping deliveries about the restaurants and shops of the city of angels, all the time harbouring a secret ambition to work in one of said eateries and put his prodigious talents as a chef to use. The scene is set for disruption: enter the beautiful Jasmine (Julie Zhan), the daughter of a client, Martin (Kelvin Han Yee) whom Cameron has been sent to pick up from LAX. Will the Big Orange whet the appetites of these would be star crossed lovers?

When Martin, in order to instruct Cameron as to whom he’s looking for, shows the driver a pic of his daughter the latter can hardly contain himself, executing a double take and doing all he can to stop his tongue lolling out like the customers in the bijou diners he nightly frequents. Subtle, mate; but it’s clearly a case of love at first sight. When she turns up (as cute as a button, too), Jasmine is in a similarly threshold state to Cameron. She’s ‘figuring things out at the moment’, and has issues with daddy Martin, who is a hot sauce magnate and has little time for his daughter. There’s some artificial conflict when Cameron picks her up, with Jasmine complaining that she expected Cameron’s reasonably sized car to be ‘something bigger, like a van’ (um, why? You’ve only got carry-on luggage with you, Jas). Such madam-like behaviour is soon jettisoned though, with Jasmine settling into her role as a companion for Cameron who is just as sweet and lost as he is.

Enjoyable as it is, the issue with Comfort is that from the very off, this pair shares genuine chemistry and, plotwise, a more or less instant rapport. They get on. It’s difficult to see where the film can go after the initial meet-nice; in a film about journeys, both physical and spiritual, that’s a bit of a problem. To use a food metaphor, it’s like turning up to the restaurant already full, but still having to go through the rigmarole of ordering and pushing food about a plate. But that doesn’t stop gastronome Cameron from sharing his favourite epicurean spots with Jasmine as the narrative unfolds. Cue glossy narrative cul-de-sacs of food porn; speckled eggs evocatively cracked and stirred into steaming soup, the thick sable of espresso slowly dripping through cream coloured filters. I’m not the only one using food metaphors it seems…

Jeopardy manifests in the Cinderella-esque conceit of Cameron’s skin condition; if the sunrise (which, arrgh, Jasmine wants to witness so much!) catches up with him, he’ll be one burnt pumpkin! And who likes the flavour of charred squash? Cameron is so convincingly self-effacing that him keeping his ailment from Jasmine makes sense (the substantial gawkiness of both leads is what keeps Comfort’s narrative wheels spinning), but even this conflict is quickly resolved when Jasmine finds out about it from a third-party half way through the film, and immediately and sympathetically accepts the disorder. So, it’s up to bossy Martin and Cameron’s employer to provide the film with antagonism; will Cameron lose his job, will Hot Sauce Boss prevent Jasmine from going to Japan to become a teacher? Uh, the thing is, it’s already been established that adult Cameron would be better suited as a chef, and that grown woman Jasmine barely sees her dad anyway: what’s the problem? Vince Vega looking after Mia Wallace it ain’t.

But what Comfort is, as the title implies, is a gentle, eminently watchable and beautifully shot romance. What it lacks in narrative jeopardy, it makes up for in sheer feel good charm, with the film using its rich ingredients to satisfying and, indeed, nourishing effect. Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but in an age of grindr, of bare hook ups and snap chat nudes (and a Valentine’s day blockbuster that depicts two people slapping 50 shades of something out of each other), it’s rather lovely to see a relationship carefully and realistically unfold as Cameron and Jasmine’s does, and taste vicariously the piquant spice of love.

Comfort is available on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play now.