Victor Warren directed this little slice of life (or slice of death, perhaps) as his first short film since 1991’s “Alone.”
Film Threat readers will probably best remember star Patricia Tallman for her stint as the psychic Lyta Alexander on “Babylon 5”. In “Waitin’” her journeys into the darkest parts of the mind proceed from a completely different direction. Sally (Tallman) is waiting for her appointment in a hospital. She sits, and waits, all day long. Eventually, Phil (played by Warren), wanders into the room, sort of in a daze, seeming to be a little bit mental. Sally makes room on a bench next to her, and Phil sits down. They don’t speak a word. Hours pass, most of the staff leaves, night falls. Finally, Sally and Phil finally begin making small talk.
Interestingly, Sally begins to behave as if they know each other, even though they haven’t spoken for all the hours they sat together. She thinks that Phil’s name is Roger, and that they are married. When he fails to remember anything about what she is talking about, it seems as though Phil is crazy. Phil thinks Sally is crazy. One of them must be, or maybe they both are. As their conversation progresses, things shift: Sally seems sad that Phil (or Roger) doesn’t remember that she is his wife, but Phil seems to be the sane one, and becomes concerned about Sally, who begins to seem more and more like the nuttier of the two.
As the room gets darker and emptier, Sally reveals a tidbit of information that clears things up, but which also opens up more questions than it answers. In the end, we’re pretty sure what Sally’s story is, but who (or what) Phil is, or if he even really exists, is open for debate.
Thus, “Waitin’” reveals itself as a glimpse into the mind of someone who is hurting, and through its ambiguity, the film allows viewers to project their own experiences onto Sally’s confusion.
My main issue with the film is that the pacing seemed a little uneven. Half of the running time is spent setting up the tedium of waiting, mixed with the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty that we feel in hospitals. This is fine, but then the meat of the film (the eventual conversation between the two leads), seems to flash by much too quickly. I would have preferred to see their secrets unfold earlier and a little more slowly, and to stretch out the tension about the nature of their relationship a little longer.