The Drug Deal, written and directed by Tanya O’Quinn, is a self-described Covid-19 comedy. The film makes use of the minimal locations forced about by the pandemic, as the plot centers around a car, a driveway and a house. There is a good use of suspense. The film has a certain playfulness, and the film’s intentions are fun and likable, though the execution leaves something to be desired. The Drug Deal is a well-meaning buddy movie, effectively shot and lit, that falls a little flat when it comes to dialogue and delivery.
The titular drug deal involves two men, the wannabe gangster Gary (Gerard Marzilli) and the socially awkward Carl (Bron Theron), who are waiting to meet with a mysterious dealer. The men are near polar opposites, the former full of bravado and bluster and the latter tentative and apprehensive. They have been thrown together to execute the drug deal. The details: the house across the lawn; the porch light will come on; Carl will have an exact period of time to run across the driveway; he will pick up the package and get back to the car. It certainly isn’t a revolutionary plot, and the film treads over familiar ground, but there is something endearing about the relationship between the two men and their plans for a smooth operation.
The film lacks originality, but the technical aspects are more than adequate. The film is well shot and well lit by Jorge Valiente and Michael C. Jenkins, capturing the car and the chemistry between Gary and Carl effectively. The clever use of the minimal location also creates a good level of suspense. The film, taking place at night, is dark and gloomy, with only the characters’ faces illuminated at times. This creates a mini covert world, presumably within the filmmakers locality, which has some relevant feeling and the film should be commended for that.
Nevertheless, crucially, The Drug Deal struggles to hit its comedic beats. The two main characters are quirky, but not particularly funny. The performances teeter on the edge of likeability, particularly in the contrast between facial expressions and demeanor, which is well constructed, but they feel too rigid to be genuinely side-splitting. In particular, the dialogue and delivery struggle to hit the mark. More work was needed on the writing and timing as it can often feel disjointed and flat. This is compounded by the occasional feeling of discontinuity between shots, primarily as a result of inconsistent performances and disproportionate reactions.
The Drug Deal is a playful, if unsubstantial, buddy movie. Certain elements of the film’s style are fun: the credits introducing the characters, the music that drifts in and out, the shots through the car window. But, due to the combination of writing and performance, the film fails to craft really effective comedic moments. Lines designed for a laugh feel too strained and overplayed. The central situation might also have been better developed, made more absurd or eventful, as, in reality, the drug deal doesn’t feel quite distinctive or hilarious enough to warrant the time spent watching it unfold.