February 8, 2019 The Divorce Party (Movie Review)
Don’t commiserate, celebrate! When one young man’s world is turned upside down by a divorce, he will struggle to embrace his brand-new life in The Divorce Party. Gravitas Ventures delivered the Dramatic Comedy to select theaters, as well as VOD and Digital HD, on Friday, February 8, 2019. Just in time for Valentine’s Day!
Nate Brown (Thomas Cocquerel: Red Dog: True Blue 2016, Table 19 2017) is a young architect who moved to Savannah, Georgia, and succeeded in landing the new job and the girl all in one day. Though the past four years of his cookie-cutter marriage with the passive-aggressive Susan (Claire Holt: The Originals series, 47 Meters Down 2017) has largely been composed of routine, banal couples’ dinner parties, which are frequented by their best friends Dan (Max Silvestri: Billy on the Street with Billy Eichner series, Table 19 2017) and Jan (Katrina Bowden: Tucker and Dale vs Evil 2010, Piranha 3DD 2012), along with Tuesday night’s spent watching home improvement shows. And lots of ugly sweaters!
Seemingly at random, one afternoon Susan returns home from work to confess that she’s miserable and wants a divorce. The soft-spoken and easily agreeable Nate is flabbergasted, and his entire existence is turned upside down. Moving into a local hotel and joining a support group for divorced men, he struggles to cope with the upheaval in his once flawless life. One evening at a swank bar, while nursing his wounds with alcohol, he runs into an old friend, Katie (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz: Rings 2017, Revenge 2018), who after the dissolution of her own marriage has undergone a truly stunning transformation.
A former wedding planner turned accountant, the feisty Katie urges Nate to embrace his new life: to stop commiserating and start celebrating his newfound freedom and independence. With her urging, he agrees to an epic divorce party, one that will set the tone for his bachelorhood and close the book on his marriage once and for all. As the pair set out to plan this shindig, Nate will begin to usher in the newest chapter of his life, one in which he can finally start to learn his own wants and needs and, quite possibly, find love again.
Clocking in at 93 minutes, The Divorce Party is a feature-length directorial debut for Hughes William Thompson (A New Man short 2014, Horn short 2016), and was written by Mark Famiglietti, an actor known for his roles in 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and the series Aquarius, and Lane Garrison, known for his acting in the series Prison Break and 2007’s Shooter. It also features the acting of Todd Lasance (Home and Away series, Spartacus series); Tom Wright (Marked for Death 1990, Seinfeld series); Will Brittain (Everybody Wants Some!! 2016, Kong: Skull Island 2017); James DuMont (S.W.A.T. 2003, Jurassic World 2015); as well as Writers Famiglietti and Garrison.
Flipping the standard breakup tale on its head, The Divorce Party blends Dramatic Comedy with Romance to author the tale of a man who undergoes an unwilling divorce and is forced to reevaluate his entire life, break from his comfort zone, and try new things. The story is unique, though if you require a comparison there’s a slight The Wedding Planner (2001) vibe here. In short, we can boil the plot down to this: man loses wife, man gains a life.
Filmed in Savannah, and with a wonderful, original Indie Pop soundtrack composed and performed by Bitter’s Kiss and Baker Grace, The Divorce Party is a fun little film that will leave you with a smile on your face and a warmth in your heart. Sure, it’s not breaking any new cinematic ground or presenting a Mensa-level script, but, to be fair, do you expect that from a Rom-Com? It’s a fun little movie, one that should delight singles and couples alike — provided your idea of happiness is not living in a cookie-cutter development, kowtowing to your spouse, and throwing cheese and wine dinner parties.
What with its wonderful cast, it’s not hard to understand why The Divorce Party is so enjoyable. In the lead, Cocquerel is exceptional as poor, down-on-his-luck Nate. Appropriately socially awkward and timid when needed, eventually growing into his own skin, Nate blossoms before our eye thanks to Cocquerel’s ability to transform on-screen. From grandad sweaters to dapper shoes, Cocquerel embraces every facet of his evolving character and lures the audience into Nate’s world. It’s an exceptional credit to Cocquerel’s talents that his Australian accent never once comes out to play, making him fully believable as the (boring) all-American guy next door.
Similarly, the talented Lutz gives a wonderful performance as the feisty Katie. Part friend, part party planner, and all-around life coach (or svengali), Lutz’s Katie is the strong-willed yet kind-hearted feminine presence that Nate needs to inspire him to pursue life after divorce. Known for her ferociously powerful role in 2018’s Revenge, here Lutz proves that she can do subtle and, more importantly, she can also make you laugh. In a sense, Katie is the perfect foil to Holt’s controlling Susan: she leads through delicate direction and never by mental manipulation. Ultimately, Lutz is vivacious in her central role, and also does an excellent job at masking her Spanish accent.
It’s certainly difficult to break out of the comfort of routine, but sometimes life forces us to take an initially unintended new pathway. In fact, there’s some great advice embedded in The Divorce Party, if you’re open to finding it: the idea of celebrating yourself, embracing the new, and never settling for the middle. With superb acting and a fun little story, single, married, or divorced, you can’t help but kick back and enjoy The Divorce Party. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock give The Divorce Party 4 of 5 stars.