“I like a challenge. And you, my friend, seem like a crown-contender.”
— Emily reasons her way to a “gap weekend” with Ben
Ben (Art Hall) is a heart-broken professional blogger licking his relationship wounds in the spare bedroom of his sister and brother-in-law’s house (a fine Nicola Graham and Robb Padgett; he does additional wonders behind the camera, as we’ll soon discover). It’s been six months since Veronica — Ben’s childhood sweetheart — dumped him and put the kibosh on their travel blog. Now, instead of blogging, Ben spends his evening crying over his laptop, watching his old blog entries, wallowing in the past. For Ben, the “perfect woman” is a girl who licks out the inside of Oreos and tosses away the cookie. Hey, at least he has goals.
The catalyst for Ben finally getting off the pity train: his sister plans to attend Veronica’s wedding. As modern man does in these digital days — after drowning his sorrows at an “analog bar” — Ben takes to the Internet and vents his relationship frustrations with a “dating manifesto,” where he explains his idea of an unplugged “gap weekend” of escape. Who else would respond to such a post and go off with a total stranger for a mock, pretend-relationship weekend in California wine country: the quirky — B.S shilling and not everything she seems — Emily (a delightful Rosie Koocher).
This is going to work: Ben would like to meet Pablo Picasso, while Emily digs Jackie Chan. . . . At least the weekend getaway will occupy Ben’s time and discourage him from crashing his ex-wife’s nuptials. . . .
While this is a self-produced film outside of the studio system, Gap Weekend is not the expected, poorly-shot, arduously acted endeavor that one would expect from an indie-streamer dropped in the clogged digital streams of Amazon or Tubi. Writer and director Todd Norwood is an experienced auteur: his work dates back to his debut with the comedy-drama The Wayfarers (2005), along with the lighter comedy Tricks of Love (2008), the thriller Blackwater Farm (2011), and the rom-com Chasing the Sun (2018), along with a smattering of six shorts between those films.
As result of Todd Norwood’s previous experiences, Gap Weekend is a thoroughly enjoyable, Woody Allen-styled comedic watch assisted by Robb Padgett’s nostalgic, peppy score. The intelligence of Norwood’s smart scripting (the estate sale crashing and the antique rings; Ben pretending he’s Emily’s cousin) is raised by our leads of Art Hall, with network sitcom-timing efficiency (only more theatrically realistic), and an instant-chemistry mixing Rosie Koocher. Bringing it home is the major studio-solid cinematography and editing by Mike Barroga and Robb Padgett (Did you cater the set, too?), respectively.
Everyone, in all of the related disciplines, delivers the goods in the frames of Gap Weekend, an indie delight that captures adroitly, the quaint essence of Miramax and Fox Searchlight titles released during the Gen-X ’90s. I am predicting multiple festival wins and a quick distribution deal for the PPV and VOD marketplace in this film’s future.
Disclaimer: We were provided a screener by the filmmakers. That has no bearing on our review.