Veronica Image

Veronica

By Ayurella Horn-Muller | December 10, 2018

We rely so much on our sense of self. Who we are and who we’d like to be, are mind-numbing concepts that play on foundations of cynism and sincerity. In more ways than one, a pursuit of identity is a path we’ve all set off on. It could be a coming-of-age life reconnaissance, middle age crisis, or more simplistic sought-after source of belonging.

And for some among us, self-awareness is equated to reaching a destination on a path, with results of an uncompromised vision. Such a mindset is the source of the magic behind director Reiko Aylesworth’s short Veronica: a comedy intent on redefining humor via sardonic imitations that poke fun at the thriller sub-genre.

Writer and lead actress of Veronica, Tanya Perez proves to be a double threat in this 16-minute video showcasing her acting chops on screen. Titular character Veronica (Perez) faces something entirely unusual: a desire to become another woman.

“…Veronica faces something entirely unusual: a desire to become another woman.”

Attending her first Transgender Identity Empowerment group meeting, Veronica dares to open up about how she’s utterly convinced that a stranger’s life is hers from afar. Stalker flag flying high, the organization have no idea how to handle the implication of Veronica’s confession (i.e., she’s been obsessively watching a woman, Jennifer, for months). This spills over into a series of events where she battles with her desire to wholly adopt Jennifer’s life and remain Veronica because of what society expects of her.

Conceptually speaking, there’s a lot that works with this production. Originality reigns supreme in writer Taylor Perez’s satirical take on a classic thriller subplot: woman befriends other woman and assimilates her into her life, with the aim to become her and take her out. In fewer words, it’s relegated first-rate moviemaking thanks to the avant-garde plot alone.

Old friends and self-absorbed bosses all appear in this film. Joining Perez on the cast roster is Pooya Mohseni, who plays Sarah, Veronica’s narcissistic boss. Bianca Leigh played Diane, the head of the Transgender Identity Empowerment group, Jax Jackson as the transgender member of the community, Crash.

Rounding up the major roles is Joslyn DeFreece with her embodiment as Katiya. Each respectively performs to a high degree, Perez garnering the most screen-time and therefore the most natural praise. Together, the cast resolutely ensures that the ironic intention of the production isn’t lost on the audience.

“…sharp, polished, and high-res, every frame set to a compelling guidebook.”

When watching Veronica, it’s almost too easy to forget that it’s a short. The movie has the enviable gloss of a prototypal feature film: sharp, polished, and high-res, every frame set to a compelling guidebook. What’s really lacking is an insight into why Veronica felt pulled to follow the stranger (Jennifer) in the first place. Imperative to any storyline is a raw backstory – even if it appears no longer than seconds on screen.

More layers framing each character’s perspective added to less speculation would strengthen Veronica to unparalleled cinematic heights. As it is, the 16-minute short relies too stringently on face value, limiting the lasting impact from an audience POV.

Just kooky enough to warrant more than a few grins, Aylesworth and Perez do something that hasn’t been done before. Thrilling and radical, the two combine forces to inject a pattern of delightful risk in the sequences of events. The verdict? Watch this. Prepare yourself to revel, react and (so, so sparingly) relate to Veronica’s idiosyncrasies.

Veronica (2018) Written by Tanya Perez. Directed by Reiko Aylesworth. Starring Tanya Perez, Pooya Mohseni, Jax Jackson, Bianca Leigh, Joslyn DeFreece.

7.5 out of 10 stars

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