Intermittently amusing post-“Clerks” effort displays some talent in the writing and thesping departments, even if tale of barkeeps and kitchen staff is finally too undeveloped to make a serious impression. Mostly, it’s a good calling-card item, especially for lenser Glen Winter, who hands in some moodily memorable B&W work. Distrib chances seem less than certain, although they’d improve if “Barnone” were cut down to a breezy 90 minutes or so.
Helmer-scripter Mark Tuit is himself a longtime bartender, and his view of the bar scene, limited here to one long night in a mid-scale Vancouver joint, feels fairly real. The self-financed pic is largely a boys-only affair, with a gaggle of guys — headed effectively by William MacDonald as Mike, the burned-out head barkeep — hurling variably delivered, frequently oversold punch lines at one another like there’s no tomorrow. Of course, no tomorrow is sort of the point of the tale, and production has a woozy, dreamlike quality that’s well suited to its setting.
Tuit could have given things a bit more narrative shape, but the pic’s anecdotal quality is easy enough to swallow. Mostly, things center on Mike, warily breaking in Al (Anthony Dohm), a callow new guy who’s given a hard time by the regular barmen. As resident screw-up and stud, respectively, Cal (Cavan Cunningham) and Stu (Frank Topol) manage to keep lots of trouble underfoot, with the former always antagonizing the boss (Robert Saunders) — a hippie-turned-capitalist — and the latter unsuccessfully juggling a bevy of interested babes. Unfortunately, the femme parts are just walk-ons, and they’re not as well written or acted as the men’s. This is a problem in such a character-driven story, and the action runs out of steam accordingly.
Responses will vary according to auds’ interests in bodily functions related to a booze-and-food environment. Pic would have benefited from less gag-oriented dialogue — especially since lines aren’t always as funny as actors seem to think they are — and a tad more introspection would have gone well with the pic’s moody monochrome look (which is, however, broken for one brief flashback seg in psychedelic color).