Joy and the Apocalypse (2011) – By Matt Barry

Joy and the Apocalypse, directed by Daniel Black and Ryan Convery, is an intriguing film with narrative turns and twists leading its characters through an unusual story toward an unexpected ending. It’s also a superb character piece, with particularly standout performances by Reza Breakstone and Vanessa Leigh.

Benjamin (played by Reza Breakstone) is an architect in charge of building a church that will stand as a memorial after the coming apocalypse – which is coming at 7:15 pm on the day the film takes place, when an asteroid will strike the earth. He is engaged to Linda, whose father is financing the church. We learn that Benjamin has sacrificed everything that he believes in – everything that makes him unique – in order to win the approval of Linda and her father. An encounter with his free-spirited, pregnant ex-girlfriend Joy (Vanessa Leigh) puts things in a different perspective for Benjamin. She plants the idea in his head that he should spend his final day living exactly as he wants to. They spend the day together, leading Benjamin to a bit of self-discovery and leading to one adventure after another. The film then takes an unexpected turn, moving toward a twist that casts the previous events of the film in a different light. It soon turns out that nothing is as it has seemed.

At a crisp 79 minutes, directors Daniel Black and Ryan Convery keep the story moving at a good pace, long enough to flesh out the details of the intriguing plot, but keeping things quickly-paced enough so that it never feels padded or long-drawn. There’s also a deft blend of humor and drama, moving between moments of frantic romantic comedy elements, and powerful moments of soul-searching for Benjamin as he wrestles with his conscience over his commitment to building the church, and his past relationship with Joy. For a film with such an unusual concept, directors Black and Convery manage to keep attention focused on the characters. Visually, the cinematography is appropriately subdued for a dialog-driven comedy of this kind, avoiding drawing any unnecessary attention away from the performances and writing. It’s a film well worth checking out, successfully blending and balancing many different elements in a unique approach.

The film is presented by Fat Foot Films and Rock Your Head Productions. For more information on the film, visit http://www.joyandtheapocalypse.com.