Truth Cocktail

Rated: Not Rated

        Back in November and December (2015), after attending my first Somewhat North of Boston Film Festival, I interviewed filmmaker/actor/writer/ director Chris Goodwin about his role as The Bad Luck Guy in A Bad Luck Guy in a Bad Luck Town. As is typically my style, the last question I asked him was if there was anything else he was working on that he’d like to tell me about. He said that there was and emailed me a link to his film Truth Cocktail.
        I watched the film that night, and promptly emailed Chris the next day to tell him that I’d love to review it and would get back to him with questions shortly. Well, days turned into weeks, which then quickly turned into months. I had had every intention of reviewing the film not long after seeing it, but as so often does, life got in the way.
Codey Gillum as Devin is beyond help (Photo courtesy of Chris Goodwin)

Codey Gillum as Devin is beyond help (Photo courtesy of Chris Goodwin)

        I’ve kept in contact with Chris during all of my procrastination, alerting him to various film screenings and festivals that were looking for entries, so that he could enter the film. Recently the film was accepted to the first ever Live Free or Die Film Festival in Manchester, NH. Figuring that I may end up covering the festival, I emailed Chris to congratulate him on the film’s acceptance, after which he asked me how that review was coming along. Needless to say, I feel awful for putting the review off for so long. So, (after watching the film again so it’s fresh in my mind), without further ado, here is my review of the Chris Goodwin and Fake Charmer Productions film
Truth Cocktail:
        It seems to be an inevitable fact of life (in most cases), that with time you and the friends you had in high school or college will drift apart. It could be because you develop different interests, or someone moves away to get married or to work, or someone has a child while you don’t; the list of things that cause the divide is as wide as the divide itself. No matter the reasons, there seems to be three general outcomes: 1) You miss the friends that have gone, but you get over it and make new ones; 2) You attempt to keep in touch and hang on for dear life to the friends you had or 3) You realize that they weren’t really your friends to begin with and you let them go without too much thought.
        #2 is the premise for
Truth Cocktail. Desperate to find out why their clique from college has grown apart, Jules and her husband Gary decide to throw a dinner party for them. Unbeknownst to Gary, or anyone else, Jules plans to lock them in the apartment and drug them with a truth serum in order to get to the bottom of why they’ve grown apart once and for all.
The group chugs the truth serum in Truth Cocktail (Photo courtesy of Chris Goodwin)

The group chugs the truth serum in Truth Cocktail (Photo courtesy of Chris Goodwin)

        I asked Chris how he came up with the idea for the film. He said, “I guess I’ve always just had a wish or want for some type of truth serum or lie detector test. I think we all have people that we are close with, or that we used to be close with, that we just wish we could ask some really tough, awkward questions and get to the bottom of certain things. So being able to [give that to] these characters who all have a history [together], and have never come to terms with it seemed like fun. Once I had that, the hardest part was asking around and trying to find the most realistic way someone could lock people in an apartment
from the inside. But overall, I think a lot of us can relate to not being ourselves around [certain] people, or just keeping things to ourselves instead of having to deal with confronting people, so not having a choice in that [confrontation] felt like a different way to approach that subject.”
        And that is one of the major things that make this film so unique and wonderful. There are plenty of films out there in which a group of friends get together, end up taking some mind altering substances, (be it liquor, drugs or otherwise) and then confront each other about things. That concept in itself is nothing new. But the way that Chris Goodwin and Fake Charmer Productions has tackled such a situation in
Truth Cocktail is different. Yes, the friends end up taking drugs, but they’re not drugs that make you loopy or high; they simply make you more inclined to tell the truth in an uninhibited way. And when people want to leave because they’re uncomfortable with the events transpiring, they can’t because Jules has trapped them into the confrontation, both figuratively and literally.
Emily Hecht as Jules keeps people from escaping (Photo courtesy of Chris Goodwin)

Emily Hecht as Jules keeps people from escaping (Photo courtesy of Chris Goodwin)

        In most cases I’ve found that in films like this, things may start off lighthearted and funny, but by the end you feel like you’ve witnessed an emotional train wreck. It’s clear that by the end of these films the characters are sad, angry and drained, but what’s worse is that the audience usually is as well. Sometimes these sorts of films are done well enough that you don’t mind the depressed and melancholy feeling they leave you with. More often than not though, (to me anyways), it feels like these “everything’s downhill from here” type endings are a copout. It’s like the writers were sick of dealing with the characters, and so just leave everyone damaged and broken in the end.
Truth Cocktail though is like the proverbial needle in the haystack. The characters are well developed and complex; the conflicts are a well woven tapestry of emotional mayhem, and the story itself, while seeming mildly ridiculous, isn’t really that farfetched. In the real world could Jules get away with holding people hostage and drugging them (no matter how good her intentions)? Probably not. But this film, despite its turmoil, doesn’t leave you feeling battered and broken just because you watched it all of the way through.
Truth Cocktail is an exhilaratingly comedic study of the meaning of friendship, for better or worse, that will have you giggling from beginning to end. Chris Goodwin and his friends/team have managed to do what so many so called professionals have failed miserably at: they’ve made a film that is thoughtful, purposeful and funny from start to finish, without taking too much from the audience. And if that doesn’t pique your interest, nothing will!
Truth Cocktail was written and directed by Chris Goodwin and stars Emily Hecht, Topher Hansson, Cody Gillum, Kati MacCarron, Eddie Nason, India Pearl and Chris Goodwin.

Truth Cocktail is currently making the festival rounds, and will screen at the first ever Live Free or Die Film Festival on Friday August 12, 2016. More information about Truth Cocktail and Chris Goodwin can be found here:

  • Truth Cocktail IMDB