The interconnectedness of lives is a topic that is very familiar with independent films. They are films that live and die depending on the writing, specifically the strength of the characters. Café is not a perfect movie, but is a very fun one because of its characters.
Todd (Daniel Eric Gold) runs a quaint little café in Philadelphia. He has never met the owner of the café, but he returns every day because it’s an easy job and he’s in love with his co-worker, Claire (Jennifer Love Hewitt). Meanwhile, there is also a drug dealer (Jamie Kennedy) who appears to be working now with real estate. Alexa Vega plays a young woman trying to get a job to help someone on a personal level. A married man decided to be spontaneous and asked out a stranger he met in the theatre.
Then there is a man who keeps having a little girl (Madeline Carroll from Flipped) talk to him through his computer trying to convince him that the world is not real, but a computer simulation and she is its creator. Now this is a fascinating plotline because it’s so different from the rest of the movie. The others are strong character studies, but then there is this science fiction story that can either be accurate or the man’s schizophrenia.
Although the theological questions were a bit too easy, this story provided a lot of fun. Writer/director Marc Erlbaum has a fun sense of filmmaking. The camera is always gracefully moving through the lone set. With the avatar/God plotline he is able to show some fantastical imagery that enhances the movie.
The cast is really strong in this, as well. Gold has a leading man presence that makes his character very endearing even though he has the weakest of the set. Kennedy gives his best performance I’ve seen. He is typically very manic, but he’s controlled and very threatening in this.
A lot of people will be talking about the ending and it didn’t need to be that extreme. The movie works because Erlbaum created a world that was a lot of fun to be in for a week. At the end Erlbaum compromises a little bit of that interaction, not exactly with its story but he does end up overshadowing too much.
Beyond that, this is a delightful film that shows a lot of promise for Erlbaum and his future endeavors. IMDb lists his next film, A Buddy Story, which will star the brilliant Mad Men actress Elisabeth Moss. I can’t wait.