Newington Native's 'BFFs' Film Gets Friendship Just Right

Newington native Andrea Grano co-wrote, co-produced, stars in “BFFs”

Friendship, especially long-term friendship, can be difficult to pull off in a movie. Depicting a believable rapport isn't about talent. It's about vibes. Without easygoing chemistry, even good actors with a good script come across as exactly what they are — two people assigned to like each other.

Andrea Grano and Tara Karsian aren't faking it, on screen or off. They're best friends in real life and play best friends in "BFFs," which they wrote together. Their breezy amiability makes "BFFs" fun to watch. These two gals like each other so much we like them, too. The only sign of awkwardness between them comes during the big plot twist, at which point awkwardness is appropriate.

The comedy, directed by Andrew Putschoegl, was shown earlier this month at the EROS LGBT film fest at Trinity College. It opens Friday at Real Art Ways in Hartford. Grano, a graduate of Newington High and Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, will be present to discuss her film.

When we first meet Sam and Kat, they are at an excruciating birthday party, at which Kat is being grilled about her recent break-up. They flee to drown their embarrassment with tequila, while Sam unwraps Kat's presents and takes the ones she wants. Among the gifts is a pre-paid weekend at a couple's retreat, intended for Kat and her ex to patch things up. Kat and Sam decide to go together, pretending to be lesbian lovers, just to use the pool and chill out at a scenic chateau. At the retreat, they go through the New-Agey exercises, chat with other retreaters and try not to be found out.

Kat initially calls the retreat a "...crunchy granola love-fest," but in the end the retreat is treated with respect, which is a surprise. At least it's treated with respect by the script, which doesn't laugh at the loopy exercises. But the audience will laugh. The comedy is low-key and unforced.

Most of the laughs, however, come from individuals revealing their personality quirks and the squirmy discomfort that comes when people one has just met blurt out intimate secrets. Grano and Karsian, who also produced the movie, got a good supporting cast. Everybody gets a moment to shine: Pat Carroll, Larisa Oleynik, Jenny O'Hara and especially Richard Moll ("Night Court"), who steals a few scenes as an oversensitive, oversharing husband.

However, the movie is all about Sam and Kat. Grano and Karsian keep it lively, especially Karsian, whose expressive face perfectly registers amused disgust. But they are devoted to each other and it shows.

"BFFs'' is a Sneaky Pete Productions film, 90 minutes and unrated. It opens Friday, Nov. 28, at Real Art Ways, 56 Arbor St. in Hartford. Co-producer, co-writer and star Andrea Grano will be present at Friday's screening. The film will run at least at week.

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