'High Cost' strikes a melancholy chord

While many films show what a dose of good luck can do for someone, "The High Cost of Living" reveals how a matter of seconds can change the course of someone's life indefinitely and not always for the better.

Starring Zach Braff and Isabelle Blais, the Newport Beach Film Festival flick examines how two lives that would have never intersected in normal circumstances become inextricably intertwined after a car accident.

It's the first film by director Deborah Chow, who received high marks at the Toronto International Film Festival, winning Best Canadian First Feature.

Henry (Braff) is an American living in Montréal, working as a drug dealer. The first scenes roll as Henry enters dark night clubs, makes exchanges at diners and deals with demanding clients who bang on his door at all hours.

Nathalie (Blais) is a pregnant French Canadian who is irritated by her workaholic husband's inability to make her pregnancy a priority. Nathalie feels a series of contractions one night. Home alone with a husband who won't answer his phone, she decides to go to the hospital on her own.

She goes in the street to flag a cab.

Henry is haphazardly reading street signs, driving around aimlessly, when he ends up on Nathalie's street. He doesn't notice her in the street until his tires come to a screeching halt.

Due to the pharmacy he carries in his backseat, Henry calls from a pay phone and leaves Nathalie in the street. He doesn't know if she's alive or dead.

The rest of the film shows how Henry attempts to redeem himself, finding a way to meet and eventually befriend Nathalie in a way he never thought he would. Upon finding out that she lost the baby in the accident, Henry becomes a shoulder to cry on when Nathalie's husband can't fathom her loss.

As the hit-and-run investigation continues and his relationship with Nathalie becomes complicated, Henry has to decide his fate.

While many films portray instances that seem out of the ordinary in an idyllic sense, many audience members felt they could relate to the unexpected twists and turns life throws our way.

"I thought it was really sad and depressing, but it was good," Kathleen Payne of Rancho Santa Margarita said at Thursday's showing. "It's something that people can relate to. It makes you think of where you are in your life and things you've done wrong … and bettering yourself before it's too late."

Alexis Santos, also of Rancho Santa Margarita, agreed that the film had its dark moments but called it "amazing" and would recommend it to others.

Kathleen Madden drove from Hermosa Beach because she's a Zach Braff fan.

"I wasn't sure what to expect based on what it said about it — a life-changing event and things would never be the same," she said. "I liked it. It was really touching, pretty deep and sentimental."

"The High Cost of Living" hits theaters May 13.

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