Night Before the Wedding (2010) – By Duane L. Martin

Will (William Shay) is a responsible, straight laced kind of a guy, and he’s getting married.  His friends, led by Bronco (Gregor Collins) have all gathered together on the night before the wedding for his bachelor party.  These guys have all been friends since high school, and they all think the world of Will.  Bronco got the use of a house and arranged the whole thing, but the night was not to come without its problems.  First, Bronco is being way too intense about the whole thing and almost ruins the fun before it begins.  Then the best man shows up semi-drunk with the bride’s cousin, who they ask to leave, but when he won’t, they end up gagging him and tying him to a chair in the garage.  Then Will finally shows up, and his heart just isn’t in it.  Over the course of the night, things get progressively worse, finally coming to a head after the porn stars Bronco hired to come to the party show up, and Will is faced with an ethical dilemma that could determine the outcome of his future, and his marriage.

This film is the first feature film from David Branin, and is riddled with the kind of characters that I’ve come to expect in his films, but how did he do with his first feature overall?

Well, the mix of characters and personalities was interesting.  You almost wonder how these guys were not only friends in high school, but managed to stay friends for years after because a lot of them are so different from each other.  Jerky, virginal, straight laced, responsible, irresponsible, down on their luck, relationship issues, caustic personalities…they’re all on display in this film and are all pulled off well by the actors, although the mix of personalities does make things feel incredibly awkward at times, leaving you wondering how this whole party didn’t break down into one big drunken brawl.

There was one character I didn’t like and I didn’t find all that engaging or believable, and that was Will.  He showed up at the party and was immediately showing himself to be an ungrateful douche by trying to get out of it right away because he had plans to play pinochle with his parents that night.  Wait, what?  Your buddies all get together to throw you a party, spend money on booze, etc…, and you’re trying to bail on them, and for such a stupid reason?  They say in the film that no one’s ever had a bad word to say about Will.  Well I do.  He’s an ungrateful ass.  Then, on top of that, he won’t drink hardly anything and doesn’t really get into the spirit of the party, especially at the end of the film when he starts blaming the wrong person for the night’s events.  Aside from Will however, the rest of the characters were believable enough, though some were better written and better performed than others.  I did find the Bronco character to be rather unbalanced though.  He could be an ass and bossing everyone around one minute and then nice the next.  There were apparently some really serious emotional issues though that had gone on in his private life, so I assume this could have accounted for some of that.

I think the one character I actually liked the most in the film was Norm (Kevin Deen).  He was kind of a nerdy guy with good morals for the most part, and he was still a virgin and took a lot of crap from the other guys, yet he ended up being the most likeable of the characters.  He just seemed like a nice guy and he was funny when he was a drunk.  The nerdy awkwardness that kept creeping out at various points in the film were actually really endearing.

All in all, it was a good exercise in taking a lot of different personality types and throwing them in a room together to see if they could get along when faced with one drunken night of fun and debauchery.

From a technical standpoint, David Branin’s films have always been extremely well made, and this one is no exception.   The use of lighting in this film to create the proper ambiance was expertly done, and the film was well edited, which let it flow at a moderate, yet steady pace.  The camera work and shot set ups were expertly done as well, immersing the viewer in the scene without ever becoming too busy or awkward in the way it followed the characters or the action.  All in all, this was technically a really well made film.

Despite the fact that certain characters aren’t overly believable or endearing, for the most part, David Branin’s first feature film is definitely a success, and he has a lot to be proud of here.  Making that jump from shorts to features can often be a daunting one for film makers.  Sometimes it works out well, other times, not so much.  Despite a few character issues, David has made that jump almost seamlessly, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more great films from him in the future.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out the film’s website at http://www.nightbeforethewedding.com.