In this odd little tale, Jessica Sanders’ short film End of the Line is the story of Big Man (Brett Gelman), who finds companionship when he purchases Little Man (Simon Helberg) for a large sum of money at his local pet store.
Based on Aimee Bender’s short story, written by Joanne Giger, Little Man is a literal little man, who lives in a birdcage with a dollhouse living room set to provide basic comfort. The relationship between Big and Little starts amicably. Little Man gives a few instructions about what he eats and how he likes it presented (on tiny little plates), and Big Man finds happiness with the responsibilities of caring for his new pet.
“Little Man is a literal little man, who lives in a birdcage with a dollhouse living room set to provide basic comfort.”
But Big Man’s personal life is on the rocks thanks to failed attempts to impress Office Girl (Vivian Bang). This results in Big Man projecting his frustration on Little Man. Similar to the backstory of many pets; Little Man was once a free man with a family until he was captured as sold as a pet. Little Man would love nothing more than his freedom, but Big Man likes this “friendly” relationship and uses Little Man’s desire for freedom for some callous play.
Director Sanders has stitched together a nice little story of an absurd relationship and grounding it all the way to the film’s conclusion. Its story our companionship and freedom is sweet and heartbreaking and ends in a nice little button. The effects blend together showing that bringing VFX to your short can be accomplished and don’t let it scare you off as filmmakers.
Solid acting from Helberg draws us into Little Man’s hope for freedom. Gelman has the lock on the unlikeable, likable guy. These fantastic performances keep the storyline emotionally interesting from beginning to end with a nice status switch at the end of first act. Both actors show a diverse range of emotions, which is important to help us buy into this strange story.
End of the Line (2018) Directed by Jessica Sanders. Written by Joanne Giger. Starring Brett Gelman, Simon Helberg, Vivian Bang, Kate Micucci. End of the Line screened during the Prime Time block at the 2018 HollyShorts Film Festival.
8 out of 10 stars