A lesson to aspiring filmmakers: sometimes, you can achieve more power with less flash. Case in point: this disturbing film from director Kelly DiMauro, adapted from a short play by Caroline V. McGraw.
Set entirely in a family-owned retail store, the film consists of a heated confrontation between two strong-willed women: Gladis, a troubled and rebellious 16-year-old in a fractured relationship with her family, and Rini, her father’s new wife. Gladis believes it is her right to help herself to the store’s merchandise, which she sees as the eventual inheritance from her ailing father. Rini angrily reminds Gladis that her father is still alive and the road to adulthood includes the burden of responsibility.
McGraw’s language is rich with raw emotion, as the two women try to stand their respective ground without betraying their vulnerabilities. DiMauro’s subtle direction brings forth extraordinary performances from Josie Kulp as the reckless Gladis and Mariah Sage as the challenged Rini; these women use McGraw’s powerful dialogue as lethal weapons, eager to draw blood without the slightest sign of regret.
But perhaps the most striking element here comes in how the women use their post-combat moments to handle rings: Kulp’s Gladis nonchalantly admires an engagement ring she takes from the store with the vanity of a spoiled under-aged diva, while Sage’s Rini tenderly feels the marriage ring around the finger as if the duties attached to the jewelry has burned her to the bone. These moments of intelligence are truly awe inspiring, and it brings a remarkable level of drama that is often uncommon in today’s short films.