The Perfect Host
Stacey Testro International
Now Showing at: Cincinnati World Cinema, August 23 and 24
Review by: Larry Thomas
Don’t you just love it when you take a chance on a completely unknown film and it pays off? Such is the case with The Perfect Host, a low-budget film from first-time writer-director Nick Tomnay. The only familiar faces in the cast are David Hyde Pierce, who spent several years playing Niles Crane on “Frazier,” and, in a smaller role, 70s singer Helen Reddy.
Clayne Crawford plays a less-than-scrupulous individual who has been injured during a robbery. He’s on foot, and on the run, when he manages to con his way into the home of Pierce, who’s preparing a dinner party for several friends. At this point, you can likely put two and two together, but it will come up five. The Perfect Host is one of those films in which an unexpected plot twist gets in the way of figuring out what happens next. And it happens more than once during the course of the evening, and the dinner party, and the aftermath. In fact, the argument can be made that there may actually be too many plot twists for one film, but that’s not important. Just go along for the ride and see what happens next.
The film is definitely a showcase for David Hyde Pierce, whose performance will keep you enthralled. It’s a one-eighty from Niles Crane, and Pierce makes the most of doing something different. He wraps himself in the character of Warwick Wilson and lets it rip. He’s great fun to watch.
Clayne Crawford, an actor with credits to date mainly in series television, is fine as the feckless fugitive who considers himself smarter than he actually is, which keeps him as surprised at the proceedings as the viewer. Crawford is up to the task of playing opposite Pierce, and actually has a screen presence reminiscent of a young Ray Liotta. The rest of the supporting cast does fine work in small roles.
The Perfect Host is not a perfect film, as you will likely start discovering some plot holes once you start thinking about it afterward. But there is so much going on while the story unfolds; you don’t have much time to pick it apart in real time.
It’s a noticeably low budget film, which is used to the film’s advantage. Sets are limited, but functional, and it has the look of an under lit fifties- style film, and that’s a good thing. In fact, it might have been more compelling had it been shot in black-and-white.
But let’s not worry about the minor things. Just enjoy The Perfect Host for what it is… and maybe you’ll even be inspired to host your own dinner party.
The R-rated The Perfect Host is a presentation of Cincinnati World Cinema and Covington’s Carnegie Arts Center. Performances are Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 pm, preceded by a social hour featuring catered food from Europa Bistro and a cash bar. Following the film, World Cinema’s Tim Swallow will lead a discussion about the film. And there should be lots to talk about.