By: Hawk Ripjaw (A Toast) –
I’ll just come right out and say it: The less you know about The Fare, the better. I can tell you it’s one of my favorite films of the year, and while the following review does not contain spoilers, the movie benefits from going in completely cold.
Cab driver Harris (Gino Anthony Pesi) is driving down a seemingly endless road in the middle of nowhere, looking for his fare and wondering why anyone would be this far out of town. A lightning storm brews overhead and the voice of his irritable dispatcher crackles over the radio. He finally locates his fare, who introduces herself as Penny (Brinna Kelly). The two of them enjoy some lighthearted banter as they get to know each other. The car briefly dies right as a huge bolt of lightning cuts across the sky, and Penny has vanished.
Cab driver Harris (Gino Anthony Pesi) is driving down a seemingly endless road in the middle of nowhere, looking for his fare and wondering why anyone would be this far out of town. A lightning storm brews overhead and he bickers with his irritable dispatcher on the radio. He eventually locates the fare (Brinna Kelly). She doesn’t introduce herself by name, but they quickly become friendly.
An animal suddenly runs across the road and Harris fails to stop in time. Penny’s head goes through the partition and he grabs her hand, suddenly remembering her name. He’s in shock, and Penny explains that they are in a time loop: every one begins with Harris picking her up, and ends with her vanishing. She remembers everything and he doesn’t, and they’ve gone through this loop hundreds of times. They need to figure out how to escape the loop and return to their respective lives, learning a little bit more every time before Penny irrevocably vanishes again.
What makes The Fare so impactful is a one-two punch of its script (written by Brinna Kelly) and the performances of its two leads. The performances are very naturalistic, and Kelly and Pesi have excellent chemistry that reliably conveys the passage of time as they get to know each other better through the hundreds of car rides they take together. Once they’re both on the same page, the two begin to brainstorm ways to escape the loop; their decisions and ideas make sense, and rarely (if ever) do they make any of the dumb decisions that only movie characters make to keep the plot in place.
As Harris and Penny continue to interact throughout their rides, they begin to develop a fondness for each other that really raises the stakes of the situation and build tension over whether or not they’ll ever escape the loop, and where they’ll be after the fact. These are good characters that are easy to care about, and as a result the movie is constantly engrossing across its economical 85 minute run time.
It also looks great thanks to director D.C. Hamilton and cinematographer Josh Harrison . There’s clever use of color to convey memory, and different scenes use different color palettes to great effect. It keeps the single setting of the cab from getting stale and the constantly looming storm and endless roads and fields in every direction instill a great sense of atmosphere. The score by Torin Borrowdale runs through a number of emotions and motifs that take on greater significance as the plot progresses.
Once all is revealed and the credits roll, it becomes evident that the script was dropping hints and setups the entire time, though they were concealed by apparent normalcy. Nearly everything that happens or is said is somehow tied to something later, and there’s a level of skill to how tightly constructed this is that is really impressive.
One of the biggest surprises of the year, The Fare is a meticulously crafted romantic mystery thriller that never fails to stop being engaging. It’s impossible to look away from; not only because every detail counts, but because of the awesome emotional richness that permeates the whole thing. It’s often amusing to hear the banter between Harris and Penny, and there are moments of devastating revelation that significantly strengthen their dynamic. I wanted to immediately rewatch it to see what other clues I could pick up on. It’s an incredibly rewarding film, and it deserves to be sought out as soon as possible.
The Fare (2019) Movie Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time the loop restarts.
Take a Drink: for every payoff from an earlier clue.
Take a Drink: every time Harris takes a drink.