Mendo’s Carousel, from writer-director David Michael Maurer, is a compelling slice-of-life dramatic short. It is one of reconnection, legacy, and second chances. Dry cleaner Arthur (Edi Gathegi) finds his deceased business partner’s daughter, Liza (Otmara Marrero), has broken into the shop. Now, they must overcome their strained relationship to honor Mendo’s legacy.
We follow a drunken Liza breaking into her late father’s dry cleaning shop to steal cash from the safe. She throws the cash in her bag and tries to walk out. The next day Arthur notices the door is unlocked. Ready to whack the alleged criminal with his baseball bat, he finds Liza lying on the ground, half asleep. He reminds her to stay away, and she sarcastically tells him she is leaving. Liza panics, unable to find her bag. As Arthur insists she leaves, Liza angrily responds that it’s her father’s shop too. Observing a gold bracelet on her arm, Arthur questions her need to steal. Liza reveals it is one of her heirlooms, the last item she has left from Mendo.
“Now, they must overcome their strained relationship to honor Mendo’s legacy.”
After taking a deep breath, Arthur tells Liza that her father was a heavy gambler, mounting up debts. However, his life changed once she was born. Arthur describes how Mendo found clarity after Liza’s birth and decided to open a dry cleaning shop. He also revealed his promise to Mendo was to take care of Liza and her mother. A customer then shows up to pick up his suit.
It is evident that Maurer poured his heart and soul into the sincere drama Mendo’s Carousel. Gathegi gives a strong performance. His character is a recognizable mentor figure that the audience can see in their own life. He plays Arthur as a stern and compassionate man, who has acquired wisdom going through life.
Mendo’s Carousel should be seen by the general public. The Oscars and Golden Globes need to get Maurer’s true-to-life short in their shuffle of dramas. These characters are not your standard melodramatic figures, which is refreshing. The film captures the complexities of adulthood and honoring the family’s legacy by improving oneself.
"…These characters are not your standard melodramatic figures..."