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Review: Comedians share long night in well-acted, intimate drama ‘Before the Sun Explodes’

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Sarah Butler and Bill Dawes in film “Before the Sun Explodes.”
(Before the Sun Explodes LLC)

Belying its grandiose title, the L.A.-set “Before the Sun Explodes” is an intimate, if at times stagy, snapshot of 24 hours or so in the life of Ken (Bill Dawes), a stay-at-home dad and once-successful stand-up comic with anxiety, confidence and marital issues.

Just before an important show (shot at West Hollywood’s Laugh Factory), Ken fights with his self-absorbed, breadwinner wife, Diana (Christine Woods), when she comes home drunk from a work event. She throws Ken out of the house, but her intentions are vague.

Predictably, Ken then bombs on stage. Less predictably, he connects with Holly (Sarah Butler), a sexy, forthright fellow comedian, who has stalker and ex-boyfriend troubles. Ken and Holly end up at the apartment she shares with an eccentric loner (Michael Rivkin) for some dark-night-of-the-soul chatter and a will-they-or-won’t-they romantic flirtation.

But is Holly what she seems? And is Ken really done with his marriage? Those and other questions are opaquely answered — or not — over the course of the next day with this smart, intriguing film ending perhaps too soon for more inquiring minds.

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Director Debra Eisenstadt, who also edited and co-wrote with Zeke Farrow, effectively draws us into Ken’s challenging world and conflicted psyche, aided immeasurably by actor-comic Dawes’ dimensional, empathetic performance.

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‘Before the Sun Explodes’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

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Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood; also on VOD

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