Long Island filmmaker Matt Morillo’s short “Good Tidings” tells the of Stephanie Sullivan, a twenty-two year old woman who has a lot to deal with this Christmas. Between her chronically depressed mother and her estranged father’s re-emergence – not to mention having to put up a tree and lights – ‘merry’ and ‘jolly’ are nowhere to be found.
Morillo’s strengths lie in his appreciation of the subtle nuisances of family and the ability to elicit fine performances from his actors. As with his debut feature “The Pretenders”, “Good Tidings” does not attempt to bludgeon you with “Terms of Endearment”-like heavy handedness nor is there a too hip for the room quality where everybody has something super clever to say at every moment. The characters are drawn from everyday life and, unlike so many films, are not underwritten nor overwritten.
The tendency, especially for a lot independent filmmakers, is most often style over substance. It is far easier to get noticed with empty bangs and catch phrases than with well-constructed words and it is certainly refreshing to see a filmmaker with his own voice and talent not give in to the temptation to be gimmicky.