You might be inclined to think that something kinky, even debaucherous, is going on in Carlos Puga’s “Full-Dress.”
I went in to this film cold turkey and I have to say that I’ve never laughed harder than I did with this film.
Puga cleverly opens “Full-Dress” in a very macho way a la Quentin Tarantino. The danger is plausible. The cinematography is on point. The characters chew through their lines like they’ve been in A-list films before. Then, Bertie (Jimmy Akingbola) says “Stop being so dramatic,” before a bombastic opening credit sequence runs.
The story behind “Full-Dress” is that two friends set out to make their own movie. Chris, played by Christopher Abbott, is an A-list actor and is full-steam ahead to make this project with his best friend, Noah (Robin Lord Taylor). The trouble is that their financing falls through, they lose their lead actor and they picked the wrong guy to borrow funds from to get the picture started.
I mentioned a moment ago about how Puga opens the film because as the production falls apart, the story’s “fourth wall” falls apart, but the way the film is shot, you don’t know when the lines are going to get blurred.
Abbot is along for the ride as he gracefully pivots between Chris, the A-list actor who has a reason to be in a production like this and Nick, the character in the ongoing dramatic story. Taylor does a fantastic job at being a less-than-trustworthy slime ball, trying to raise the money.
Puga uses the oldest film trick in the book, a McGuffin, to great effect with one of the characters and even manages to call himself out on it. This is the kind of witty filmmaking that I enjoy seeing these days. The film starts out on such a serious, dramatic note. The tension between the characters was palpable and not five minutes later, they’re hamming it up.
That was the interesting juxtaposition between the two story walls as they blurred together. The character motivations remained the same, whether they were in the film or we were behind the scenes, everyone was equally driven to get their own voice heard, right down to the real Uber driver.
I mentioned “kinky” and “debaucherous” at the beginning of this review. In fact, Microsoft Word doesn’t even like “debaucherous,” the nerve. Anyway, “Full-Dress” refers to a full dress rehearsal and should not be confused with what I might or might not have done last Saturday night. (Which was nothing. Really.)
The beautiful thing about “Full-Dress” is that it doesn’t take itself seriously, unlike this fine review you’re reading. Making a film is a serious business. It requires preparation, time, money and most of all, dedication. Carlos Puga’s dedication is, quite literally, up on the screen.
Now that I’ve hopefully made you laugh, go take that whetted appetite and seek out “Full-Dress.” You won’t be disappointed.
“Full-Dress” is Recommended.
Written and Directed by: Carlos Puga
Starring: Christopher Abbott, Robin Lord Taylor, Lina Esco, Boris Lee Krutonog, Jimmy Akingbola, Carlos Puga, Tommy Cooley, Meredith Shank, Tyler Peters
A Standard Arts Film, 80 minutes, Not Rated.