Every now and again something we watch on television or on the big screen has the ability to hit close to home. Everyone has a story to tell and it is no shocker when others can relate. As individuals we can feel lost and unsure of our decisions but there is comfort in knowing there are others who have felt the same way. Watching Joe Angelo Menconi’s feature film directorial debut 5 Years Apart I was both entertained and emotionally involved. Albeit my personal attachment to the film’s themes I feel Menconi along with co-writer Zac Krause give audiences a fun film with relatable characters.
The film follows brothers Andrew, played by Scott Michael Foster (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), and Sammy, played by Michael Vlamis (Roswell, New Mexico), who share the exact birthday… five years apart. The brothers have grown apart so much they did not know they each had the same plan to celebrate in their parent’s home while they’re away. Everything is thrown off the rails immediately as Sammy hooks up with Emma, played by Chloe Bennet (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), because unknown to both they are also in-laws. It also becomes clear that out of everyone Sammy was the only one not invited; as Emma’s sister/Andrew’s wife Olivia, played by Ally Maki (Dear White People), invited Emma to celebrate Andrew’s birthday. A very uncomfortable situation is made even worse when it also turns out Andrew and Olivia hoped to get Emma together with their friend Mark, played Craig Low.
What starts off as a light hearted comedy soon creeps into a serious drama between siblings and the paths they have chosen. It was this moment in the film that was very relatable to myself on the perception others have on you and effects that can have simply for choosing a different path. Although this scene shifts the film into another direction it only pushes the story further and does not throw off the momentum of the story. This scene also showcases Vlamis as he steals the scene in trying to “justify” his life choices to his older brother. The entire cast gel together really well too which only strengthens the bond these characters share with each other but at the same time it always feels like Sammy is the pure driving force; a credit to Vlamis’ performance as the free spirited Sammy. Bennet pairs up wonderfully too as the equally spontaneous and “rebellious” Emma; making them quite the duo together. Another added delight was Mark and to Low’s credit he portrayed this pompous, arrogant, show off to a tee to where I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh at him or punch him.
I was quite impressed with Menconi’s feature debut as it was a heartfelt comedy that did not go too heavy on the drama and kept the beat light hearted. Aside from a few road bumps that had little to do with the overall story I did not want the fun to end.