One of the great pleasures movies bring is looking deeper into the inner workings of characters put forth by the filmmaker. What are their motivations? Why do they do the things they do? Those questions are especially appropriate in “Beer and Art” where I found myself wondering why one woman wouldn’t defend herself properly and thus allow the battle she was in, to grow into a proper catfight.
The camera first pans in to a car sitting near a curb and then cuts into the car where Arlene (Kerry Gudjohnsen) and Sylvia (Radha Lorca) are smoking something and then talk turns to Sylvia’s poem, which she doesn’t want to read. As it turns out, Arlene and Sylvia have been co-workers for 3 months and this is their first time together as friends and Sylvia isn’t quite sure that she can trust Arlene.
The action moves to the house where things get more intense. Sylvia still doesn’t want her poem read, but reveals a past story to Arlene about her former Poetry 101 teacher who didn’t like her poem at all and that’s what seems to haunt her to this day. Later on, Sylvia excuses herself to head to the bathroom and Arlene reads the poem and that’s where things really flare up, although not about Arlene reading the poem. At one point, Sylvia throttles Arlene and it doesn’t make any sense, not to mention that it would have made the film better had it gone this way: Doesn’t Arlene bother defending herself? I mean, since Sylvia had her hands around her neck, Arlene could have gotten up, fought back and we could have had a good, entertaining catfight going on here. Not only that, but I wondered whether Arlene actually liked that sort of thing.
The past may haunt Sylvia to the point where she becomes an interesting sort of psycho, but it’s not enough to hold complete interest in the entire short. Radha Lorca is ok in the role of Sylvia, but does overdo it at certain points and the director, James Mirarchi, does resort to two old clichés, one being the “Is He/She Actually Dead?” one.
The interaction between both women is quite good however, showing that Mirarchi does have a handle on what he wants with the characters he writes about, but there is certainly room for improvement here that I hope comes his way in future shorts.