Kensington, directed by Matt Ferrucci from a script by Michael Marc Friedman, wears its tribute on its sleeve. The 30-minute short film is less of a story and more of a love letter to Philadelphia. Individual scenes are intercut with still photographs of the City of Brotherly Love: streets lined with row houses, old-timers hanging out on the sidewalk, wiseass kids flipping the bird at the camera, and other slices of blue-collar Americana. The affection that Friedman and Ferrucci have for this Pennsylvania city is evident, and it gives the entirety of Kensington an endearing quality that is hard to resist.
Poor Dr. Harper (Mather Zickel). The psychiatrist has been in Philadelphia for only two months, having relocated from Texas with his surgeon wife, Rachel (Andrea Grano), and already he’s been mugged. He is cordial and warm but seems to receive nothing but hostility from everyone he encounters–from a convenience store clerk aggressively dissing the Dallas Cowboys to Bobby (Michael Marc Friedman), the conflicted young man who shows up for a therapy session one day.
Bobby is a simple and genial sort of guy. The kind of guy who probably thinks that people who go to psychiatrists are psychos. The moment he sits down in Dr. Harper’s office, he asks the therapist, “so whaddya wanna know?” This is one game that Bobby doesn’t quite understand how to play.
“He and Bobby even bond over the difficult women in each of their lives…”
But Bobby feels comfortable with Dr. Harper, and who wouldn’t? He’s easy to talk to and insightful, characteristics brought to life in Zickel’s laid-back and subdued performance. In other words, Dr. Harper’s a good therapist. He and Bobby even bond over the difficult women in each of their lives, Rachel and Berta (Kim Director), Bobby’s wife, with whom he has been involved since they were both fifteen.
But Dr. Harper also has issues. He admits (in one of several confessionals that are nice but probably unnecessary) that his wife gets on his nerves, and we can sense in his general demeanor that he is having a tough time adjusting to life in Philly. It’s going to take a few hiccups until this southern gentleman fully comprehends the east coast hustle.
The comedy in the film is quirky, but comedy isn’t the primary focus. Kensington (named for the Philadelphia neighborhood) is really more about the concept of displacement, of finding one’s source of comfort after having been removed from one’s home. It’s a lovely theme, and even though locals like the patently sweet Bobby and the inherently patient Berta are rough around the edges, they are basically sympathetic down-home folks whom you just have to get to know.
Similarly, Kensington is, at its core, a tenderly offbeat short story that illuminates the idea that realizing your home might be the place that you had just about given up on.
"…wears its tribute on its sleeve."