The premise for ‘How Do You Know Chris?’ drew me in, and for Aussie film buffs with patience (one tends to demand the other) this is worth a look.
A chance meeting with the protagonist at a laundromat leads young, attractive emo Emi to a party Chris has thrown where a small gathering of angsty inner city types get on each other’s nerves for a period until the enigmatic host belatedly arrives at his trendy warehouse apartment (I’m guessing in Richmond).
Despite the free alcohol being taken advantage of, attempts at joviality fall flat as more prickly exchanges ensue between guests grappling with grievances stirred by Chris and fraught histories. Some may pick up on the early clue to where it’s all headed as the otherwise affable Chris seeks to close the loop on his life’s loose ends (albeit opening new ones).
Unless sparked by a true event, one ponders the significance of the movie being set in 2000, for there’s few reference points. Suffice to say, house parties of the 21st century suck terribly compared to the drunken debauchery and hilarity of Don’s Party based in late 1960’s. Perhaps the stark social change in Australia and the way people interact and deal with their issues is the takeaway.
Whether the writers struck the right balance between maintaining the air of uncertainty at the expense of an underwritten screenplay is open for debate. Whilst the relatability of the characters works in its favour, perhaps an unhinged Cooley type (Don’s Party) might have added some spice to the everyday canapés. Or an actor of say Guy Pearce’s calibre may have attracted eyeballs in deservedly greater numbers. Although the irony of Chris’ father figure / boss kitted out as Sherlock Holmes, in error thinking it was fancy dress, is a clever touch and deserves a mention.
Warmly shot on a tight budget, the paltry worldwide box office of $534 (at the time of writing) is somewhat tragic, much like the year 2020 when the film was released and parties, even as messed up as this one, couldn’t even happen during Melbourne’s prolonged lockdown. Realistically, this party barely got started, though the efforts of the cast in their commendable attempts, hold the film together.