An accidental butt dial provides a curious husband an unexpected glimpse into the mind of his loving wife.
Unless you’re the greatest story-teller in the history of story-telling, most shorts won’t necessarily have a complete arc for the main character.
And so I’m really torn on this one.
It’s a great set-up, pulled off with lots of creativity. And the film is certainly never dull.
But if you want the full story, not just what I’ve termed a “punchline” short film, or a “slice-of-life” – then look elsewhere. This is a tiny glimpse into a much larger story. And the main character is solely reactive. It’s tough to feel for someone if they take no action to better their situation – or to at least try.
Here’s the skinny on the forthcoming short film, Hang Up!:
Gary (Robert Nolan) answers a call on his cell phone from his wife Emelia (Astrida Auza). What he believes to be a butt-dial, turns into a tell-all from his wife. Unbeknownst to Emelia, Gary stays on the line and learns about his wife’s past, her feelings about him and her plans for the future.
I had some problems with Nolan’s acting choices in the film. I can see that Gary’s initial reactions to what he’s hearing, would be the shock and disbelief Nolan so perfectly captured, but after 10+ minutes of Gary listening to his “beloved” wife berating him, I feel like the levels of emotions would have tipped the scales and gone into some other directions. Obviously, Gary wasn’t written to have much dialogue, but I didn’t get a sense of enough struggle, anger, resentment and pain in Nolan’s mostly silent moments. You can justify speechless shock only so far in a situation like this.
As wife Emelia – Astrida Auza is brilliant. While the various levels of vitriol toy with over-the-top and nearly melodramatic, it’s also inherent in the character that she’s manipulative and knows how to play up scenarios to make her point and get her way. We only ever see her in stills (family photos in Gary’s office and Emelia’s avatar on Gary’s phone), but damn if Auza doesn’t completely nail the absolutely nasty language and vulgar acridity required by the role.
I appreciated the choice of the filmmakers to set the entire piece in one small office space. The set was properly filled with office accouterments and Gary’s personal items, so every new angle on Gary – as he listens to the call – has some interest and character history.
The film is shot entirely in black & white. And while I like the choice aesthetically, I am not quite sure how it was meant to serve the story.
The film’s epilogue is arguably the most powerful segment in the entire film. It’s confusing (in a good way – is what Emelia’s saying really true?), unnerving and creepy – with a powerful conclusion, just as the end credits complete.
Overall, Hang Up! is a solid short. It’s a very cool idea with some tantalizing unanswered questions, but not without its share of problems.
Regardless, if this particular short film comes-a-calling, go ahead and pick up the phone. Forgive me for that one.
Hang Up! will be enjoying its World Premiere at the 5th annual FilmQuest Film Festival in Provo, Utah. It will play in the shorts block scheduled for September 8th, 2018 at 2:00pm (MST).