It's the last day of university term and planning the traditional pranks is well underway between good buddies Blake (Luke Arnold), Lloyd (Clayton Moss), Vinnie (Roger Sciberras) and Ricardo (Steve Maresca). Blake and Lloyd are two brilliant physics students who have always worked closely together as a partnership, but the stakes are much higher today as only one of them can top the year and win the University medal, and the somewhat sinister Professor Sorvad (Barry Quin) plots to influence the outcome. Vinnie is called upon to drive his beloved Betsy, a 1968 canary yellow fiat sports coupe, at high speed through the campus on a desperate mission against time. Ricardo falls lustfully in love with the sexy gym girl (Gillian Cooper). Lloyd has a new girlfriend, the cosmically conscious, tree-hugging, dolphin-loving Zara (Catherine Jermanus). Zara uses her self-styled mystical powers to read the tarot cards and to predict the future events of the day, and amazingly it all seems to be coming perfectly true – or does it ?
Despite the goofy affability of its energetic cast, Colm O'Murchu’s Dealing with Destiny never rises above sitcom-level antics and strained chuckles. Inexplicably spinning its plot on a tarot-card session that means little to all but one character and nothing to the audience, the film’s positioning as a 'fateful, new-age romantic comedy’ is no more than a lame marketing hook. It could more accurately be described as a college-campus caper that, given its twee bawdiness and stereotypical characterisations, would’ve been right at home on a video store shelf in the early '80s.
Tertiary education is ending for four friends, all of whom need to tie up a few loose ends. Blake (Luke Arnold, exhibiting considerable promise) needs to secure a scholarship to continue his post-grad studies; his best friend, Lloyd (Clayton Moss), is partnering him on the all-important final project; muscle-bound 'Romeo’ Vinnie (Roger Sciberras, milking his testosterone-fuelled ethnicity for cheap laughs) loves cars, pranks and chicks; and funny fatty Ricardo (Steve Maresca, gamely making the most of his thankless foil role) follows them all around just... well, because he can.
Lloyd’s girlfriend, winsome amateur-fortune-teller Zara (Catherine Jermanus), corrals the doubting Blake into a tarot card read in which she spells out the day ahead (and, subsequently, the meagre workings of the plot). Middling drama (Lloyd and Blake clash over Zara) gives way to frantic set-pieces (the old 'get me to my exam on time!’ speeding car bit) and puerile ogling (a gym workout by the amply-proportioned beauty Gillian Cooper will be a YouTube hit, that much is certain). Rather unsubtly, a nurse called Destiny (Emma Leonard) provides some cutesy romantic moments for Blake that sets in motion the inevitable feel-good ending.
Some one-take acting and liberties with continuity betray its obvious low-budget roots, but O’Murchu exhibits a solid command of his story elements, however slight they may be. Unfortunately, some silly add-on scenes portraying the post-college lives of the four lads makes it feel as the production came into some extra dollars late in the schedule. It’s hard to reconcile the meagre location work that dictates the look and feel of almost the entire film with a final five minutes that utilises harbourside mansions, the destruction of a classic sports car and a Buddhist prayer ceremony. (Don’t ask.)
Debutant writer Paul Condoleon could ease back on the wordy posturing, but his dialogue, notably in the more subdued scenes between Lloyd and Blake (and in the hands of veteran actor Barry Quin, who plays their professor) rings true. Both he and O’Murchu (who made the similarly male-centric fantasy The Makeover in 2009) may want to seek advice on how best to fully realise their female characters, all of whom remain steadfastly one-dimensional throughout.