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By Rory L. Aronsky | May 6, 2005

When the job market dives steeply into the craphole, you call Richard Penn. Why do you call Richard Penn? He’s the man to go to in order to act that part of a man who’s affected by shrinking prospects due to whatever reasons a business has on tap. He’s one of the better actors to handle such a situation and in fact, according to the press notes for “Overqualified”, the story was relayed to director Steve Fardys by Penn, a tale of a friend in Chicago who had nearly the same situation happen to him. Naturally, for “Overqualified” some details were changed, but the backbone of the story is still the same in the struggle for a job and what curiosity drags along when you don’t have that job.

Penn’s role is Stewart Morrison, a former college professor who specialized proficiently in medieval literature. His resume belongs in the Smithsonian if there ever is a section for pumped-up resumes. But his experiences and teaching jobs aren’t bringing in anything new and begging over the phone for some kind of work, he is told that he is overqualified. What a word to face when the rent is already due. His landlord is nice enough to let it slide, though is of a different personality once Stewart comes upon a child’s backpack. At first, when he is seen bringing it through the door after a presumably long day of searching out there for something that can bring in some bucks, it’s eccentric.

But as it turns out, it was left behind somewhere by a little girl and Stewart’s curiosity leads him to dig through the back and dig right through to a bundle of crack cocaine. Penn’s performance at this point is energetic, nearly through twenty roofs. He literally could jump up through one, smash down through another, and keep going like a trampoline. He fences with himself by way of swords he has mounted on the wall and is a fast-talking mess when asking his landlord for a pack of cigarettes.

With that comes something notable, two good actors working with and against one another. The girl’s backpack is claimed by Vic Kronen (Joel Swetow), a drug dealer and a father. With a drug dealer’s closely-shaved beard and smoothly operated mannerisms absorbed by Swetow, both actors give it great in the scenes between them as Stewart is worried just exactly what he got himself into and Vic wants exactly what’s his, 600 bucks paid up for the used cocaine. As for Vic’s daughter, he probably brought her along just so he didn’t try to do anything extreme. When it comes to business with people that are new to that business, breaking legs and arms right away isn’t a sprightly howdy-do introduction and Vic looks like the kind of dealer who could head right into that direction quickly.

These two know exactly where a scene begins and how it progresses. It’s also to the credit of director and writer Steve Fardys to know where to place these actors, how they should be facing off. “Overqualified” has that perfect true life feel to it, a story that could be told in a bar by friends. It’s great.

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