Directed by: #NickWestfall
Written by: #NickWestall
Indie film 8 Slices warns you right from the start; this ain't no feel-good story about some pizza joint. The tale of a bunch of young people living in a trailer park, who feel trapped in their small town lives while the pizza restaurant they work at is going under, doesn’t exactly sound like a barrel of laughs. Yet this “dialogue heavy Nick Westfall movie” offers an insightful and optimistic look at the importance of human relationships and how sometimes people can sacrifice that for fame and success.
Viral vlogger John (Jesse C. Boyd) has gained a massive internet following claiming to be an advocate for the truth, although in reality makes a profit by bullying and shaming others in his video posts. His latest project brings him to Patronies, a humble pizza place where the young staff members name themselves after their favourite philosophers (Knee-Cha, Schopenhauer, Ann Rand to name but a few), and are encouraged to read books by these famous thinkers to help shape their own thoughts and ideas. John goes undercover as an employee in an effort to expose the restaurant as the pathetic joke he suspects it is. But what he discovers is that relationships with real, decent people are a far cry from the one that he has with his anonymous online audience, which leads him to start to question the type of person he wants to be.
Westfall showcases his own unique style with some fine directing, mixing hand-held camera footage, fourth wall breaks and some snappy sequences throughout which helps to keep the film feeling fresh, along with some decent soundtrack choices which accentuate some of the films more poignant moments. While the film is funny at times, what it offers more of instead is a cleverly written script that is full of heart, leading you to really connect and care for every one of these people as you begin to understand their struggles in realising their dreams.
The entire cast of 8 Slices itself is extremely solid, showcasing a plethora of unique personalities and perspectives which produce something even greater when they come together as a whole. Jesse C. Boyd manages to strike a balance of not becoming too much of an asshole that just barely pulls you over the line so you can stick with him. The standout however is restaurant owner Boss, the central core of the establishment who gives these people not just a job, but a chance to find out who they want to be. Playing part father-figure, part teacher, Justin M. Smith, delivers such an endearing performance that not only makes you understand why these people stick by him, but also makes you wish he was your boss.
The moral of the movie is this; is it better to have a great resume or an inspiring eulogy? In exploring this, Westfall has succeeded in creating a smart, quirky, uplifting indie movie that despite its warning at the start, does leave you feeling hopeful and perhaps even with a smile on your face.