I’m always impressed when a screenwriter is able to carve their own niche into a worn-down subgenre. Over the past decade or so, we’ve had quite a few "time loop" movies, the most notable being Triangle, Happy Death Day, and, to an extent, Looper. These movies were all pretty successful, and a large part of their successes can be attributed to the generous budgets they worked with and the rather large settings.
What makes D.C. Hamilton's (The Midnight Man) The Fare special, at least from my point of view, is the creativity made from necessity. Most of the movie takes place inside a taxi, and there are only two primary characters in the entire movie. Just looking at these details, a cynical moviegoer might start writing a preemptive negative review before they even hit ‘Play.’
However, The Fare succeeds at making these limitations work. Although there were a few points I started to doze off, the majority of the movie kept me engaged.
The Fare starts with a lonely taxi driver named Harris (Gino Anthony Pesi) on his way to collect a passenger during a storm. He works for a gravelly-voiced dispatcher (Jason Stuart) who always seems to be rushing him along, never one for jokes. The road Harris travels is desolate and monochromatic. In fact, the first fifteen minutes or so of the movie is monochromatic, which I thought was an interesting choice once I understood the reasoning.
Fortunately, Harris’s passenger is a super-hot lady named Penny (Brinna Kelly). Unfortunately, they’re both stuck in a time loop that restarts each time they reach their destination.
The chemistry between Harris and Penny is the fulcrum on which the rest of the movie works, and the casting director for The Fare deserves a pat on the back for a job well done. I knew going in that this was supposed to be a romance movie, but I was a little dubious, given the plot details. But it was so much more than just a boy-get-girl romance or any other cliché. The movie is bold enough to make the audience question what exactly they’re seeing: do these two characters have free will, or is this fatalism? After all, their conversations may change each time they see each other, but the destination is always the same no matter how many ways they try to escape it. At one point, I wondered if the entire narrative was a metaphor for marriage.
In fact, the whole movie feels like an extended Sam Shepard play (and if you don’t know who Sam Shepard is…what the hell are you even doing here?)
The doomed romance between Harris and Penny was enough to keep me watching.
Although there are high points in their brief relationship, they both know how it’s going to end as soon as it begins. But what really made me happy about The Fare, and what really tied a nice bow out of loose ends, was the twist. I’m not going to spoil it, but I encourage you to pay attention to the subtle details.
Overall, The Fare is an intellectually titillating drama that owes a lot to the performances of Pesi and Kelly.