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Cameron (Chris Dinh) is a night courier in Los Angeles, dealing with a skin problem that keeps him out of the daylight. Working for a shady boss named Eddie (Billy Sly Williams), he spends his nights on runs and being a regular at local food trucks, of which having one of his own is his personal dream. One slow evening, he gets a call from a client named Martin (Kelvin Han Yee), a food industry exec struggling with a deadline who hires Cameron to pick up his daughter Jasmine (Julie Zhan) from the airport.
Taking the job, Cameron meets the attractive Jasmine, feeling a bit of connection right away, though she’s not quite on the same page, expecting an actual driver in a suit. But once she spends a few minutes in Cameron’s charming company, she bends and agrees to go with him, peeved a bit about being dumped by her father. With the night ahead of them, and with little else to do, they set about the city, getting a bite to eat, and walking and talking, coming to explore who they are and growing close, with miscommunications, humor, and of course, sparks. But with Jasmine having only one day in L.A., what they discover about each other comes with a lot of weight.
Written and directed by William Lu, Comfort will be immediately familiar to many who enjoy a good romance, taking a page out of the genre-defining Richard Linklater‘s Before trilogy, something Lu makes no effort to hide. The set up is a natural way to get two strangers to draw close as they go on a walking-driving-talking-ish tour of wherever the city the characters are set. As they share stories and divulge secrets, they learn about how right they are for each other. With Comfort, that formula is held firm and never veers too far from the path, putting more of its efforts into the relationship than the plot, one that is balanced solely on the chemistry of the leads.
That said, the best place to start with Comfort is the leads, with both Dinh and Zhan Asian-American actors in a story that never once makes their race what defines them, even as parts of their story brings them to Asian restaurants, something that films too often make more important. It’s a refreshing turn that really frees the story to be about the romance rather than the culture. Both are highly charismatic performers and Lu isn’t looking to make a sweeping, overly-produced drama, instead keeping it low-key and light, even casual.
This itself makes it a bit different, as the two aren’t bound by some heavy conflict that will eventually come to bare, aside from Cameron’s skin condition that he is not so ready to confess. This becomes a bit contrived as it evolves into a sort of action-thriller time-bomb countdown in one sequence and steers the plot into a sort of mystery as if we are meant to believe Cameron might in fact be an actual creature of the night per se, though the film even pokes a little fun at that thought itself.
That’s perhaps the film’s greatest success though as it continues tweak the expected while creating a genuine sense of honesty between Cameron and Jasmine. Despite the trigger-rich premise of clichés and tropes, Comfort finds its own path, with a believable set of barriers and minor conflicts and a strong cast that make it easy to stay invested. While it can’t ultimately overcome the trappings of the genre with a breezy soundtrack and a lengthy runtime, Lu’s script is sharp and smarter than many in this kind of film and makes for a better than expected experience.
Movie description: Comfort is a 2017 romantic drama about a courier tasked with picking up a wealthy man's daughter at the airport, discovering that she might actually be the one.
Director(s): William Lu
Actor(s): Chris Dinh, Julie Zhan
Genre: Drama, Romance