Sometimes, the most effective stories are those that don’t spell out every definitive point of what is taking place. A prime example of this is Emily McMartin’s effectively creepy “Sweet Dreams, Lovely One.”

A young man is deep in a dream involving hooded figures brandishing knives while his lovely girlfriend looks on.  He awakes and realizes he needs to return to reality – in this case, a monotonous cubicle job that brings out the worst elements in his snarky personality.  A text message from his girlfriend reminds him of a dinner engagement, but things seem off-kilter during the date. She seems indifferent to him and the intrusion of another guy – an off-duty police officer who appears to be familiar with her – adds to the problems.  The couple returns to his apartment for a late drink, but she comes away from her alcohol intake feeling worse for the effort.

What happens next? What is this all about?  McMartin’s wonderfully cryptic story, with a possible surprise regarding whose story is being told, keeps the drama moving at a brisk, edgy pace.  The deceptively benign closing shot of the young man driving his car to an unknown destination with a self-satisfied smirk on his face adds to the sense of unbalance and dread – just who is this happy ending for?

The film is blessed with a witty visual style – a clearly visible crossword puzzle on the cubicle clown’s desk, the “Closed” neon sign shining behind the couple when it seems their relationship flatlined – and leads Cheyenne Adamson and Rebecca Eubank provide deeply subtle performances that meet the story’s rapid switches in emotional reactions.

The ultimate praise, of course, is that “Sweet Dreams, Lovely One” achieves what every short film strives for – the ability to leave the viewer hungry for more.

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  1. Allen Samson says:

    I respectfully disagree with this review. I watched this film at a screening at MSU at found it unfocused and victim to the typical pitfalls of student shorts–attempting to cram so much into such a short runtime at the expense of compelling character development.

  2. Viewership hunger for more is always a sign of a movie well done!

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