Cafe Noir is written and directed by Justin Dehn, and is a short story about boy meets girl. The Girl, Zoey, is studying at a coffee shop and seems determined to focus solely on the project she’s working on. She’s immediately distracted by Tyler, a sweet-talker who convinces Zoey to stop what she’s doing and have a conversation with him. Little does Zoey know that Tyler has other plans in store than just a conversation, and Zoey will have to pay a price for taking a chance on a perfect stranger, as intentions aren’t always as they seem. The short has twists and turns in it that are not only exciting and unexpected but are also well crafted, making this a very fun short film to watch.
The short stars Makenzie Kramer as Zoey, and she does a terrific job. She gave a really grounded performance as someone that is reserved but at the same time approachable. She has great chemistry with the Tyler, played by James Griffin. Their on-screen chemistry reminds me of Will Smith and Eva Mendez in Hitch, they joke with each other, there’s occasional flirting, but it all seems very relaxed and natural and doesn’t come across like they are pretending to like each other. I think Griffin played Tyler perfectly, and when the ending happened I was completely caught off guard due mostly to how well he was able to set up the ending throughout the short.
The technical aspects of the film are very well executed. There’s very smooth camerawork when the frame is panning around Zoey while she works, and every shot is framed up perfectly. I like how the camerawork was able to help make some of the comedic moments feel enhanced, by being able to set up the end for a great surprise twist. The lighting and sound design also stand out, overall, this is a very meticulously directed film by Dehn.
Dehn has a lot of potential with this short and I can’t wait to see what he does next, I was happy with what he had set up in the first half of the story, and delighted by the surprise he was able to conceal until the end. He’s made a film that you can go back to and watch again to see if there are hints and clues that you had missed on first viewing, and you WANT to go back because of how much of a good time you had watching it! Creatively I think the short take a unique and funny twist on a lot of tropes of romantic comedies, and the risks that are taken pay off beautifully in the end
If you like romantic comedies with surprising twists than you definitely need to watch ‘Cafe Noir’. It has a lot inside a 5 minute short, which makes it more than worth the time to watch it. It has great performances by both Makenzie Kramer and James Griffin, a fun flirtatious tone, exceptional camerawork, and ends in a way that you won’t see coming.