By Admin | May 7, 2000

Even in these modern times, when a date may or may not be a date, when a guy could get slapped with a sexual harassment lawsuit just by asking out some loony, when the guy doesn’t know if picking up the check and opening the car door is going to get him blasted as an old-fashioned, chauvinistic, anti-feminist pig, even today nothing strikes as much terror when it comes to dating etiquette as the Kiss Goodnight. Zip back in time to the uptight 1950s and have your sweet and demure date insist that you slap her first before you can kiss her goodnight and you’ve got the set-up for Tamara Hernandez’ eyebrow-raising comedy short “The Slap.” Charlie (Kenneth Hughes), who probably lives in “Pleasantville,” couldn’t even spell “masochist” and wouldn’t know Betty Page if she was trussed up from his ceiling. Yet, Sue (Amanda Thomas) is insistent. No slap, no kiss. As many repressed issues as Sue no doubt has, the empathy here is mostly with Charlie. Hormones raging, he just wants to kiss his cute date…and is willing to do whatever she asks to achieve that goal, without having the slightest clue of what he’s getting himself into. This is a novel twist on a classic dating conundrum, and Hernandez is up to the task. She gets great performances out of Hughes and Thomas while deftly handling the squirmy issues of sado-masochism and sexual power — aspects of sexuality polite people aren’t usually comfortable discussing — with quirky humor. Yet somehow, “The Slap” also manages, through the disturbing desperation of Sue’s request, to remind us of the potential for real abuse her desires create, as well as calls attention to the inherent evils of battered women. All of this wrapped up in an entertaining six-minute comic short. That, my friends, is good filmmaking.

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