May 11, 2023

SCREEN | Leaving Los Angeles – 'This Time' x LAAPFF 2023

"It forced us to make these very intense relationships so quickly."
Ken Kirby Leila Perry Sebastien Tobler | This Time' x LAAPFF 2023
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Asian-American writer/director Sebastien Tobler's Los Angeles-set and filmed indie romance, the generically titled This Time, follows (quite literally) grown-up former high school sweethearts turned Indonesian expats who accidentally reunite after twenty-three years apart and spend the afternoon catching up while walking and talking around the streets of Pasadena.

Starring Vancouver-born actor Ken Kirby and Leila Perry as Colin and Laela, there's purposely not much to the film's setup. We're not really sure who these characters are and what their relationship was while losing touch after both suddenly escaping Jakarta during the 1998 riots then resettling in separate continents. As star-crossed long-lost lovers, the duo quietly examine their nostalgia for the past and possibly each other.

Despite the awkward run-in and need to quickly establish our characters' history together, This Time rests on the easygoing, casual charm and confidence of Kirby and Perry as performers hinting at their simmering feelings as former teens in love as they reluctantly revisit both their lives, paths, and one another as grown adults. Tobler wisely frames his things through a sunny Southern California disposition, even through our unfamiliarity with the couple.

Not much really happens as Tobler refreshingly doubles down on its hangout vibe of the romance to hold our attention. Kirby and Perry spend This Time making (sometimes intentionally stilted) small talk and reminiscing while the latter's character helps the former pack up his life on his last day in L.A. yet there's an endearingly light frankness to the romantic dramedy's breezy stakes.

This Time premiered as the centrepiece film of the 2023 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival as part of its Narrative Programs.

More | YVArcade / AsAmNews / Rafu Shimpo

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