Writer/director Harry Cepka’s feature debut Raf is an odd film. It’s light on plot and functions more as a slice-of-life movie.
Raf (Grace Glowicki) is a young woman in Vancouver whose life is less than exciting. She resides in a grubby basement apartment, has a boyfriend that is the human embodiment of lukewarm pasta water, and works humdrum jobs to support herself.
In a random encounter, Raf meets Tal (Jesse Stanley), a vivacious and wealthy local, and the two form a meteoric friendship.
Glowicki turns in a strong performance which illustrates the awkward and lost nature of Raf. Stanley’s portrayal of Tal is quite magnetic. She can be abrasive, but we understand why Raf befriends her.
I’m not sure what Raf wants to be. It’s indie comedy (though it’s not particularly funny), it’s drama (though never really flourishes in its dramatic beats), and it has art-house flavours (unnecessarily long sequences of Raf dancing to techno for reasons that go nowhere), but never finds its footing.
There are moments of greatness; a conversation over drinks is deliciously uncomfortable, and the genesis of the friendship between Raf and Tal is undeniably charming.
The third act of the movie takes a left-turn, building to an emotional climax that simply stops which left me cold and dissatisfied.
I feel as though Raf would have been better suited to a short film, as there just isn’t enough story to warrant a feature. Still, it’s worth watching for the performances alone.