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By Jessica Baxter | March 29, 2011

Max Weissberg’s short film, “Room 4 Rent,” is actually an excerpt from his unreleased feature film, “Summertime.” He isolated this scene during re-edits on his feature, and thought it made a nice stand-alone story. He was not wrong.

In “Room 4 Rent,” a green actress named Anna has just moved to New York City and is looking for an apartment. We meet her mid-interview with Max, a wiry, reserved fellow who is leasing out a room in his apartment. As she tours the place, she takes in the all the details and asks many questions. Her line of questioning indicates that she is planning to take the room. Anna’s bold theatrical personality seems in stark contrast to Max, so perhaps they both imagine a drama-free existence as roommates. But when Anna’s questions turn personal, Max comes out of his shell and it’s not long before they discover they may have more in common than they thought.

If Max Weissberg intends “Room 4 Rent” to be a calling card for “Summertime,” it’s a pretty good one. Though shot on HD, the film has a warm tone, making Max’s apartment look cozy and inviting. The living room décor is bright and bold, but still compliments the predominantly hardwood surfaces. It is no wonder Anna is so comfortable with the idea of living with a stranger.

The performances also bode well for a feature. H.R. Britton is particularly charismatic, infusing his answers about laundry and utilities with a strange allure. The character of Anna comes off a bit more run-of-the-mill, given that she’s just another drop in the very large actor/waiter bucket. But the fact that Max charms her makes her more charming as well. When the credits rolled, I wanted to continue following at least one of these characters for a bit longer. The press materials don’t make it clear as to how they fit into the feature. The synopsis for “Summertime” doesn’t mention either of them. Still, if Max Weissberg has managed to pack this much depth into seven-ish minutes, I’d like to see what else he could do.

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