Now streaming on:
There’s no time like the present in Daniel Antebi’s fast-paced feature debut, “God’s Time.” From the moment Regina (Liz Caribel) sits down to share her grievances to an Addicts Anonymous group, the movie’s main character Dev (Ben Groh), cuts in and talks directly to the audience, filling us in on what we don’t yet know. This isn’t Regina’s first time spilling her emotions to the group—it’s part of a months-long series of complainants about the dirtbag boyfriend who moved in, took over her apartment and her dog, and how she prays that “he’ll die on God’s Time,” among other angry wishes. Dev, who’s in the group with his aspiring actor friend Luca (Dion Costelloe), says he’s madly in love with Regina, so much so that he’s practically the only one to realize when her typical one-woman showcase varies from the script. Afraid Regina will make a rash decision and seek revenge on the bad ex-boyfriend, Dev convinces Luca to help him track down Regina and prevent her from making a deadly mistake.
Written and directed by Antebi, “God’s Time” comes out of the opening credits swinging with different visual styles, a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, fast editing, and Caribel’s volatile performance that burns up the screen. Because of its tight timeline and frenetic dash around the city, there’s a resemblance to Martin Scorsese’s “After Hours” in the movie’s DNA. Unfortunately, “God’s Time” doesn’t quite sustain the momentum or freewheeling style of its start, nor does it come close to achieving those energetic highs again. Antebi, cinematographer Jeff Melanson, and the editing team of Antebi, Jon Poll, and Sara Shaw channel filmmakers like Edgar Wright (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World") and Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (“21 Jump Street”) for “God’s Time.” But sadly, their bombastic start peters out to a look that’s drabber and less eclectic. By the movie’s end, the cheeky humor sours into tearful dramatics, and its tempo slows from the many cuts-a-minute edits to something more somber.
Still, there are some redeeming aspects to “God’s Time.” The movie is one of a handful to directly address the early days of the pandemic in 2020 without being about the crisis itself. Interstitial cuts to the A.A. group’s move from in-person meetings to Zoom calls thread seamlessly into the trio’s introductory drama. Haphazardly worn handmade masks are everywhere, from the street to intimate meeting spaces. In one of the movie’s tangents, Dev and Luca follow Regina to a client’s affluent apartment, where she begins using again, but the rendezvous is interrupted by the client’s wife in a face shield. These were all regular sightings back then, but what a throwback these details will feel like in a few years’ time.
Likewise, Caribel’s standout performance gives “God’s Time” life, a sense of dangerous volatility, and a heart. Though the movie’s narrator Dev approaches Regina as a mythologized moody dream girl turned “hell hath no fury like a Latina scorned” symbol, Caribel’s emotional performance makes the character believable. There are solo moments to her struggle that Dev and Luca do not see, but the audience does see her tearful phone conversations and angry moments talking to herself. Regina is far from a flawless character waiting to be rescued by two guys, and Caribel embraces her character’s complexities beyond the braggadocio she first presents.
Despite the movie’s less-than-24-hour timeframe, much happens for the unholy trinity in “God’s Time.” The side plots and silly tangents along the way keep the film barreling towards its climatic showdown, but this is where the energy starts to drain from its central story. While there isn't enough to love about the film itself, there's enough from Antebi and Caribel’s stunning performance to keep “God’s Time” lively, making it a memorable feature debut for both director and star.
Now playing in theaters.
Ben Groh as Dev
Dion Costelloe as Luca
Liz Caribel Sierra as Regina
Christiane Seidel as Sydney
Jared Abrahamson as Russel
John Pope as Robert (Doorman)