Few films these days dare to stand on characterization alone. Those rare ones that do seldom succeed to entertain let alone interest the viewer as effectively as '23 Minutes To Sunrise'. In an era of mega budget computer animated rapid fire explosions of simulated violence that the Hollywood of our age has embraced as neo religion, the experience of viewing a film that depends solely on the performance of its cast is highly refreshing.
Eddie is a young combat veteran lost in a quiet sea of introspection where a strong undertow of troubling memories perpetuates within him a cycle of longing for more than the mundane but finds him too comfortable to take that leap into what might lie beyond.
He works the graveyard shift as a cook at an all night inner city diner with Sheila the waitress, an attractive forty something southern bell whose eyes seem to constantly search ahead for a kinder relief from her rough and erosive life at the hands of an abusive spouse who spends his days smoking pot in front of the TV. Although she could never summon the courage to liberate herself, she is quick to offer honest aid to a complete stranger. She is a woman who knows that a higher form of thought exists, direly needs to experience it, but cannot comprehend its beginning.
Rachel and Ted - diner patrons - are a long time married couple who've passed their physical and romantic prime for one another. He is wholly insecure but has functioned as a passive aggressive in the long, failed relationship, and she is bored duller by his every word yet some faint gleam in her eye holds her in his presence. She is not quite ready to leave him, and he is certain she no longer loves him, and so is trying his best to push her away. Together their hesitant parting is an insufferable burden and yet they remain in each others company.
Donald and Grace are a young couple whose love can end or begin only in tragedy. She is a beautiful young woman possessed of a great ability to love even in the face of a man whose immature insecurities have cost the lives of random strangers. She has love to give, and no matter the depths to which he descends, she will ride into hell by his side if it comes to that. Donald on the other hand loves nothing - not even himself. Somewhere along the line he was disappointed so badly that that disappointment became first a soul wrenching self pity and then hatred of everyone and everything. The night he walks into the diner with Grace is the night his story ends, but not before an encounter with something his pathetic understanding of reality cannot comprehend. Grace could have done so much better in her choice of who to love.
Hannah has grown tired of life, of absolute loneliness in crowds and yet she appears to be a beautiful and interesting young woman that any man would fall over himself to meet and know. Her extreme melancholy causes her to reunite with an old acquaintance, one she remembers as having shown compassion if not pity, but he is a man who has never experienced either. She will meet him that night at the diner to seek from him that nonexistent mercy, to plead her case for a release from him to a better life. Poor Hannah just wants to be normal, to experience the mundane world that is all that the other patrons and employees of the diner have ever known and wish to escape - save for one of them.
Daniel. Oh, Daniel. A sly, debonair, joker that one is. Ready with a smile that could cut steel, ready to imitate the appearance of being alive ... so much so that an old acquaintance believes him capable of caring about her plight. And the cook, Eddie? Daniel knows him too. Daniel knows everyone. They just don't know it yet and that is better for them. For, as Daniel himself says "Few people meet me twice". Daniel is the wild card, the odd "man" in the room. His presence heightens the experience of all others involved and any normal person can smell quick doom in the exhalations of his cigarette smoke. Daniel knows the score no one else would dare to keep.
These characters come together in the diner, very late one night when the cool reality of a concrete sidewalk may be all that awaits beyond the door to the outside or where that first step might take you to hell itself. The interactions between the group are reason enough to see this film.
The characters are that good. Got a bit carried away, but at any rate check out '23 Minutes To Sunrise'. It's a surprisingly good film hailing from a small budget that provides more entertainment than many films with a hundred times the funding.