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Saturday Short - Sam Handel’s The River

Saturday 16 August 2014, by Jack Wormell

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

At last! A cracking short film that refrains from an irritatingly tidy conceit as if it’s a reasonable substitute for substance; The River is a mouthy, charming film that basks in the hot dry sun (‘Goddamnit it’s hot!’) and is in no hurry to get anywhere. Apart from its main character – Maria – who is desperate to get to The River - ‘I got to get in that river!!!’ she cries at her boss, Phil, who wants her to stay working in the convenience store until four – all the weekenders will be on their way up from the city ‘and this is their first stop’. But Maria is heavily pregnant, it’s hot, and she neeeeeds to get to the river. So eventually Phil, after some very funny back and forth between them, lets her go. So she goes to The River. She meets a couple of characters along the way, navigates an obstacle or two, but she gets there, and that’s pretty much it.

For sure this film is snappy – a sharp script and good human performances from Lauren Ambrose and Jay O. Sanders among others, but where does it lead us? It leads to us to one of the most calming, moving, quietly elating and downright elemental endings to what is essentially a comedy short, that I’ve seen in a while. I could blab about all the other stuff that makes the film great – the sour, pissed off Maria listening to a self-help tape to reach a state of calm and peacefulness, the sense of familiarity that Sam Handel has written into the script, even dropping in a few in-jokes here and there – but basically just watch it.

You can watch it at https://vimeo.com/50218257

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