Tribeca 2022 Review: The Thrill of the Chase Can Be Addictive in Daniel Antebi’s “God’s Time”

There’s an audition that Luca (Dion Costelloe) and Dev (Ben Groh) are supposed to be at in “God’s Time” before real life intrudes. Although Dev needs a haircut, disappointing Luca who knows it’s something the casting director wanted for their callback, the two are likely as prepared as they’ll ever be when I’m audition to whatever time they’ve put into learning the script, they spend countless hours together at narcotics anonymous meetings, both there for recovery, but taking in the proceedings as theater where they pick up on routines and habits. It wouldn’t be Luca’s choice to bail on the callback that seems so promising, but Dev unfortunately has noticed that Regina (Liz Caribel Sierra), one of the frequent people in their recovery circle, has gone off-script as she fails to sign off the story of how she was plunged into her addiction by her ex Russel (Jared Abrahamson), who got her evicted from her apartment and ended up keeping her dog, with the usual note of acceptance and divine intervention she has every other time she’s told it, letting her threat of murdering him hang in the air for a change.

While people usually go their separate ways after attending such meetings, writer/director Daniel Antebi has an inspired idea to bring them all together in his energetic feature debut, taking the addictive personalities of his central trio and thrusting them into the worst possible scenario that doesn’t involve actual drug use when they become fixated on other things. Fighting to be the best version of himself, Dev finds himself lying to others as he tries to protect Regina without letting anyone on to what he thinks she’s about to do and enlists Luca, who is reluctant to share with him what he knows for reasons that gradually make themselves known and although breaking this particular tenet of their recovery doesn’t seem all that harmful, falling back into one bad habit could lead to another. The two start hopping around NA meetings, among other nooks and crannies across the city, in search of Regina and although Antebi doesn’t make her whereabouts much of a mystery, she still remains elusive as Dev and Luca are left to wonder what she’s capable of and can easily slip out of whatever hold they have on her at any given time.

“God’s Time,” in general, feels pretty loose throughout, even with its propulsive drive. As aggressively paced as it is, Antebi uses rapid-fire editing and a frenzied soundtrack where free association jazz reigns supreme in inventive and sensitive ways, attuned to not only any adrenaline rush its characters experience in the city that never sleeps, but to the rhythm of someone in recovery from a debilitating addiction where mundane interactions can take on an unexpected intensity and the extreme can seem like second nature. A flirtation with characters breaking the fourth wall is only partially successful – when the film begins to implicate the audience in their actions, the justification is a little specious – but you admire the attempt and most of Antebi’s gambits pay off, especially the creative flourishes in the untethered camerawork and the sound design where cacophonies from any given surroundings are deployed to explosive effect. The fact that Regina has a gun means it will most likely go off by the third act, but that’s hardly where the action is when it takes more courage to look inward and “God’s Time” finds that there’s so much going on beneath the surface.

“God’s Time” is available to stream on the Tribeca at Home platform through the end of the festival on June 26th.