An office drone’s midlife crisis is examined in this thoughtful, bittersweet short film. Adam LeFevre is the ordinary, overweight everyman who considers himself to be youthful in his middle age, but worries that his life is following no set path, that he’s just taking “baby steps toward the big nothing.” His relationship with his wife is stagnant, he’s bullied by a beautiful but shrewish boss, and his son is a juvenile delinquent whose disrespect knows no limits. He can’t even remember what he does for a living anymore, even after twenty years of the same job. Director Daniel Poliner takes the viewer into the subconscious of this weary character, and what we find isn’t heroic, but it is very human.
“Right Foot, Left Foot” (subtitled “The Daring Young Man in the Cubicle”) is built with the logic of a dream, a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of memories and fears that folds in and out on itself. Our hero has imaginary conversations with a friend who died three years earlier (“it was more painful than they said it would be”), endures humiliating fantasies of schoolyard trauma and experiences flashbacks to the days when the love of his wife was fresh and exciting. Nothing is resolved, because as each question is posed, another one is drifting by right behind it. There are no answers anyway, only submission to fate and the search for some kind of truth in that acceptance.
Some may roll their eyes at the trials of a well-fed middle-management type, but anyone who has worked in an office for any length of time will recognize the ennui that cubicles, fluorescent lights and goal-setting workshops breed. It can be as numbing and dehumanizing as any factory and the work even more pointless when there’s nothing of physical weight to show for it at the end of the day. “Right Foot, Left Foot” is hilarious, heartbreaking, confusing and enlightening all at once, a terrific achievement that never condescends to its subject, the workaday schlub who gets by, but doesn’t know why.