How Do You Know Chris? stars Luke Cook, Tatiana Quaresma, Travis McMahon, Lynn Gilmartin, Dan Haberfield, Rachel Kim Cross, Ellen Grimshaw, Jacob Machin, Stephen Carracher, Susan Stevenson and Lee Mason, each of them getting almost as much screen time as each other in the film. Directed by Ash Harris, it will screen from 3 December 2020 at Melbourne: Lido Cinemas; Sydney: Ritz Cinemas; Brisbane: New Farm Cinemas & The Elizabeth Picture Theatre
It's the year 2000 and Chris Black has brought together a group of people from different stages of his life, he hasn't seen in a while, including 19 year old student Emi Mustafi, who Chris only met earlier that day. They've all had an impact on him. It's a party at his inner-city Melbourne apartment, however, the host is missing when guests start to arrive. They take it upon themselves to mingle, painstakingly at first and amuse themselves with games. Topics of conversation range from the intellectual to the mind-numbingly mundane, with each wanting to know what their relationship to Chris is. The party is well stocked up with an open bar, a bartender and fancy cocktails and finger food. Finally, Chris arrives, and nothing is immediately clear.
This is a character-driven 86 minute narrative drama featuring a cast of emerging Australian stars who do a stellar job with their characters, delivering performances of insight. Everyone is very comfortable in their skin and deliver the persona of their characters believably. There's the guy most likely whose life has done a complete turn around from when he was a little bully at school. There's a father figure, the mother, the bartender, ex-lovers, the youngest a 19 year old student, a questionable relationship and so on.
What is not really clear is the host, Chris, played by Luke Cook, currently playing Lucifer Morningstar aka The Dark Lord in Netflix's hit show, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. His motive for gathering everyone together just seems a little lost, without any real rhyme or reason or direction. The decision he makes as the culmination of this gathering also seems extreme, without the strength of a good narrative as to why to back it up.
The film is mainly set at night and cleverly confined to a few spaces. The bartender and the endless supply of food and alcohol infer no expense has been spared, leading you to believe Chris is well to do. However showing controlled spaces on-screen only lets you imagine, without actually seeing the full length and breadth of his standing.
Overall, the performances are well played and are easily relatable for the intended audience. You are drawn into the scenario, like a fly on the wall, listening to the stories, being a part of the party as an observer, yet in the midst of the conversations. Enjoy the party, love every character you meet, but you may well leave none the wiser.