Similar to the business-trip indiscretions that Grady (Aaron Abrams) and Laura (Mia Kirshner) attempt to hide, Mark Slutsky’s Never Happened is a comedy that wants the thrills without sacrificing its comfortable surroundings. Returning home after an out of town presentation, Grady is happy to spend time with his pregnant wife Sharon (Anna Hopkins). Recounting events that occurred on the “boring” trip with Laura, a co-worker who he seemingly cannot stand, at least that is what he tells his wife, Grady somehow manages to leave out the passionate tryst the pair shared.
Agreeing that it is best to pretend the night never happened – after all Laura thinks things with her boyfriend might be turning serious – Grady and Laura resort to some unusual lengths, including utilizing advancements in cellular technology, to ensure their fling remains a secret.
The bulk of Never Happened ’s charm comes from the fact that, initially at least, the audience wonders how long Grady will be able to keep the affair a secret. The guilt and fear of being exposed hangs on his face subtly overpowering the sense of calm he tries to portray. It also helps that Mia Kirshner and Aaron Abrams are engaging in their respective roles, ensuring that we enjoy spending time with the cheating couple even as they are systematically scrubbing away the evidence of their night. Their great chemistry only helps to elevate Slutsky’s sly dialogue even further. However, despite the talent on display on both sides of the camera, the film never quite delivers that knockout punch that it builds towards.
Never Happened does not feel as edgy as the major revelation in the film suggests it could have been. In fact the reveal actually hinders the film somewhat. It changes the viewer’s perspective on everything that occurred prior and forces them to question if they should even care about these characters at all? This would not be so noticeable if the film’s romantic comedy beats where more daring. Though it somewhat stumbles across the finish line, there is still enough in the film to warrant a look. As a simple comedic tale about adultery Never Happened works well enough, it is just a shame that the film does not push the envelope a little more.
Screens as part of Short Cuts Programme 7
Saturday, September 19, 3:45 PM, Scotiabank Theatre
Ticket information can be found at the TIFF website.