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SBIFF: “God’s Time”- A Fast, Well-Written, Character Piece

Feb 17, 2023

Five minutes into writer/director Daniel Antebi’s “God’s Time”, it is abundantly clear that first time actress Liz Caribel Sierra has serious skills. Her character Regina is pure fire from moment one and the newcomer dives into the deep end of her multilayered role.

Full of agressive attitude and passion, Caribel Sierra’s work here is an exciting and realistic portrayal of a young New York woman and struggling addict trying to live a life she cannot handle. As a first-time actress, this is an incredible piece of work.

Antebi’s film centers around two friends from Regina’s group Dev and Luca (Ben Groh and Dion Costelloe) and their attempt to stop her from killing her ex-boyfriend Russell (Jared Abrahamson), who caused her to be evicted from her apartment and ended up keeping her dog.

Even though Luca and Regina have something going on already, Dev has an adult crush on her and seems to be blind to their coupling.

Dev constantly explains his troubles and real time reactions to the audience by speaking directly into the camera. Quite unnecessary, the breaking of the fourth wall is a long-tired gimmick that doesn’t bring anything extra to this film or its characters.

That said, Dev’s constant interactions with the audience do not take away from what turns out to be a truly engaging motion picture.

Armed with cameraman Jeff Melanson (who gives the film a sharp look, bathing the NYC nights in pulsating reds and blues), Antebi zigs and zags all over New York City, as Dev and Luca blast their way through an “After Hours”-styled mission to prevent their friend from taking a life and destroying her own.

Daniel Antebi’s feature length debut is an intoxicatingly kinetic dark comedy that is the descendant of the street-smart New York “Indies” of the 80s and early 90s. The screenplay brings together addictive personalities and puts them in the worst possible scenarios that could send each of them off the deep end, but Antebi’s script is full of deeper ideas that go beyond the premise. The filmmaker has something to say about addiction and honesty, and true friendship.

Dev is a particularly interesting character, as he struggles to be a hero to all yet turns everything and everyone upside down through his misguided tactics. He means well, but can’t seem to emotionally keep up with the endless spiral he and Luca find themselves in.

Ben Groh is quite good as Dev and (along with Dion Costelloe and especially Liz Caribel Sierra) keeps the film grounded in rich depictions of human beings struggling with addiction, life, and human connection.

Adding to the beating cinematic pulse, Brian Reitzell’s jazzy riffs are the perfect companion to both Antebi’s fast paced editing and the committed performances. The film’s score gives each character their proper groove and colors their drama.

“God’s Time” is smart, funny, moving and deceptively loose. While the filmmaking style is frenzied for a lot of the running time, the director allows for the humanity of his characters to come through, giving each one quiet moments for the actors for their respective truths.

Daniel Antebi knows how to write honest characters and this film proves he is a filmmaker with something to offer.

 

God’s Time

Written and Directed by Daniel Antebi

Starring Liz Caribel Sierra, Ben Groh, Dion Costelloe

NR, 83 Minutes, IFC Films/Topic Studios

 

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