Written and directed by Radi Nikolov, In a world of constant expectation to do more and be better, a stand up comedian has a visit by his doubt. Shame that doubt never comes on a good night, thankfully he always buys the whiskey. Starring: Doug Cockle.
We all have the odd conversation within our own heads from time to time, weighing something up, berating ourselves or just trying to figure something out. Radi Nikolov takes that one step further with Doubt Buys the Whiskey bringing doubt into the physical, allowing our lead and sole character the ability to give himself a real talking to. Reasonably so, as everyone needs a reality check now and again, to consider if you’re on the right path and if your energies are being exhausted without any sight of progress. It’s a relatable story but it is also quite a simple one, there isn’t a lot of room for it to grow or develop into something a bit deeper, it remains mostly on the surface.
That’s not to say it doesn’t have emotion, it starts out with that big comedy note but as time goes on the sincerity creeps in and you see a more natural side. The atmosphere does retain that comic element, it would be hard not to with doubt appearing in a range of silly outfits, but it’s not overwhelming. When Doubt Buys the Whiskey opens there’s almost a burlesque edge to it, the old-fashioned style club with a jazzy score sitting atop it. It’s not really the drudgery or dive bar setting you’d normally connect with stand up comedians on their way up the ladder. It makes for an unusual choice but it’s a good setting and sets it apart.
Doug Cockle takes the film on his shoulders as our one and only character, albeit doing double duty as doubt, and he does well. He’s got a sympathetic feel, it’s not overly self-deprecating or pitiful, it’s a relatable amount of worry and insecurity. He’s not abrasive as some comics can be, he doesn’t fall into that stereotype of the male comedian, which is a nice touch, he’s much more accessible. His performance as doubt is also playful and light-hearted, he’s trying to have a tough conversation but doesn’t have to do it in an over-serious manner, he has fun with it. The balance of the two create an interesting blend of rationality and logic, but again it’s missing something to just push it that extra mile. It’s entertaining but doesn’t connect as much as it would like to emotionally.
Doubt Buys the Whiskey is an entertaining exploration of doubt, bringing to life all your typical questions of whether you’ve made the right choices. It’s shot well, in an interesting location, it has a good sense of humour and makes sure not to push it into being slapstick or overly silly. Doug Cockle gives a relatable and sympathetic performance, and creates a good amount of sincerity as the film progresses. However, it can only get so far, it’s missing an element to push the connection deeper, only scratching the surface of its issues.