There's both heart and humor in abundance in what has to be one of the year's strangest yet most engaging disaster flicks, the Indie Rights release Five Women in the End, which for a few fleeting moments feels as if it could become a low-budget Sex and the City before taking a twist, a turn and an entirely different journey that both rich and rewarding.
The film centers around, you guessed it, five women who gather every other Thursday night for a "girls night in."
Loren (Bailey Hyneman) is boss, mostly because she really is a reporter for "Boss Bitch" Magazine.
Stacy (Nicole Lovince) is a Black lesbian with fashion and flare and attitude to match.
Melissa (Corri English) is a high-powered real estate agent whose high-rise condo serves as their gathering place.
Frankie (Olivia Evans) is just one of the girls. And one of the guys. Well, she's kind of hard to explain. She's most likely the funniest one of the bunch, a brainiac software developer.
Then, there's Jillian (Tiffany Montgomery), a former child-star turned wife of a country music superstar and prone to being a rescue mom to rescue dogs. She is, in most ways, the pure heart n' soul of this delightfully engaging quintet of BFF's who find themselves tossed into a harrowing situation when their girls night in is abruptly interrupted by what turns out to be a multi-city chemical attack that renders most utilities useless and leaving Melissa's condo incredibly unwise.
See, there you go.
Heart. Humor. In Abundance.
Don't ask me how director Kd Amond makes it work. She just makes it work.
The script by Kd Amond and Bailey Hyneman nicely balances balances the wide array of emotions inevitably in play, natural and honest humor prevalent throughout by also moments of vulnerability, hurt, fear, and something resembling grief. There's never really a moment when we don't believe these women are longtime friends, a fact that goes a long way toward helping us buy into their finding humor amidst this potential tragedy.
Of course, it does help to have a tremendous ensemble cast. While each actress is given moments to really shine here, a good majority of Five Women in the End is truly an ensemble motion picture and this cinematic tapestry works as their patchwork lives are quilted together out of necessity during this time that is both potentially tragic and remarkably revealing of the power of friends, family of choice, and sisterhood.
Tiffany Montgomery shines as the soft-hearted Jillian, whose persona makes her at times seem like a misfit amongst this group yet by film's end we understand. We really understand. Montgomery gives a tremendous performance here in giving the film much of its heart-centered core. Montgomery's performance was one, in particular, that had me rushing to IMDB to check out her filmography not long after the film was done.
Olivia Evans is a delight as Frankie, easily the role most vulnerable to caricature yet Evans never allows that to happen. Evans's Frankie is smart, sassy, seems to use humor as a coping mechanism, but is endearing and funny from beginning to end.
Bailey Hyneman's Loren is bold and often seems like the ring leader, yet has a dry and steady humor that comes out in awesome ways. As Stacy, Nicole Lovince defies stereotypes, our initial impression quickly proven wrong and her presence throughout the film filled with quiet spontaneity and a vibrant spark. While Corri English's Melissa leaves the scene for a bit, English does a marvelous job of never letting us forget her presence is essential here.
Truly, these five women, in the end, are an absolute delight.
You'll love them as much as they seem to love one another.
Among the supporting players, Percy Bell's appearance is brief yet spot-on while Michael Cudlitz and Rachel Neiswanger are a beacon of hope for everyone as a radio team that never abandons the ship.
Five Women in the End is a weird one. It's a surprisingly normal film with a surprisingly abnormal story. Amidst disaster, Five Women in the End is ultimately a story about love and friendship and loyalty amidst that disaster. It's a reminder, you could say, about the fact that while we all have our quirks and foibles and weaknesses, when we love one another we can get through just about anything.
Five Women in the End is a quirky, scary, quirky scary film about life and how hard it can be and also how funny and amazing and loving it can be. It's a film I enjoyed immensely, Seth Ferguson's original score complementing the story quite nicely and Emerson Caddell's lensing capturing just the right blend warmth, intimacy, suspense, and unknowing.
After a festival run that was interrupted by, you guessed it, a disaster, Five Women in the End has hit distribution with Indie Rights and can be checked out by Amazon Prime members as part of the Amazon Prime membership. During this time when there's so much unknowing that surrounds us, Five Women in the End is a heartfelt and humorous reminder that there's hope we're going to get through this but the odds are way better if we do so together.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic