Short Film Review “An Entanglement”

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First, the Recap:

Strangers. They’ve always warned we should never trust them, talk to them, or put any potential credence in offers they might make. Trust comes from a building rapport and connection with another human being, but when that reliance is brought about under forced or unsecure circumstance, well, it can’t lead to anything good. Unless it means you get to stay alive. On a normal, everyday morning, a sleepy café respite becomes much more involved for Violet Novak (Shiri Appleby). While attempting to enjoy her morning coffee and time of personal thoughts, a completely unfamiliar figure approaches and takes a seat. This is The Man (Sean Bell), and he soon makes an awkward situation overtly more edgy–he’s there to kill her.

More than taken aback by The Man’s stunning revelation and further explanations as to exactly what he does and in this case why, Violet soon realizes there’s a possible “out” to her life-threatening conundrum–turn the tables on The Man’s mission. Upon discussion of who hired him to take her out, Violet then makes the counter-offer to have him go after a certain once-loved partner instead, her ill-intentioned husband Richard (Gary Wolf). Convinced ultimately to undertake the morose proposition, The Man accepts and initially unbeknownst to Richard, something wicked his way comes. When confronted by The Man, Richard’s immediate response naturally is to re-plead for his own existence and up the financial ante. But The Man’s subsequent actions and intent remains to be seen.

Next, my Mind:

Taking a dark premise such as this and making it not just work to full effect in a brisk fifteen minutes, but also managing to squeeze some brief, albeit shadowy, wit into the mix as well, is a feat unto itself.  Yet, director/producer Dylan Sanford not only pulls it off, but does it with a playfully sick sense of humor and edgy resolve that will leave the viewer quite upended by the finale, but in the best possible ways.  Thanks to the equally deft writing provided by Yancy Burns, the narrative crashes along with total intent and races through one wild twist after another in showcasing Violet’s now more embittered choice to turn the tables on Richard, but then also paving the way for The Man to truly immerse himself in some very determined but gleefully warped behavior, especially in putting the scare to his unassuming new target. Smooth cinematography helps the flow here, moving along at solid pace, and the finale is simply excellent.

Truly perfect casting, and the subsequent performances contained therein because of this, very much assists this short film effort, making viewing even more enjoyable. Appleby’s straight-forward, understated, yet committed showing as “everywoman” Violet couldn’t have been better in that she truly presents us with a woman taken totally aback by the worst possible scenario and yet who finds the fortitude to not end up falling into a total blubbering, begging mess. Instead, she finds the strength to confront the situation and attempt to, granted, save herself, but also get what she feels is justice. Likewise, Bell’s superbly executed “cleaner”, The Man, is played extremely effectively in order to give us the exact kind of outwardly calm, scheming, calculating but inwardly disturbed individual whom we actually want to see when portraying someone of said profession. Bell just oozes this dastardly resolve deliciously with both sequences involving Violet and Richard.

Add to this mix the final key ingredient, Wolf’s initially confident, assured Richard who very quickly turns coward in the face of the sudden change of conditions, yet still infuses the character with some last ditch defiance, though even this gets squelched rather entertainingly thanks to The Man. With a smattering of harsh language and some brief, decidedly non-sexual nudity involved, “An Entanglement” turned into quite a surprise winner for this reviewer and a further example of the fantastic, well written, thought out, and intelligent delivery that indie short film offers.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!

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