Short Film Review “I Feel”



First, the Recap:

Let’s hear it for the wonders of counseling and analysis.  Specifically, kudos to those psychiatrists who are able to play a major part with couples in need of marital assistance in order to mend the rifts driving them apart. It all melds into a bond of trust and a rekindling of love that is so desperately needed in this day and age. Then, there’s couples therapy with Dr. Olivia Talbert (Marty Smith). Having had extensive education with such related subjects as animal husbandry and women’s studies to bolster her credentials as a couple’s therapist, Dr. Talbert has taken under her wing four infighting couples who seek reconciliation in their marriages. What, pray tell, could go wrong?

With an archetype couple, Darby & Alan (Marybeth Paul & Tom Kilgallen), being a showcase for her practice’s success, Dr. Talbert listens as the other three couples–Tony & Marcia (Kevin Haley & Shannon Mercer), Gary & Wendy (Douglas Balakovich & Shandy Monte), and Paul & Jamie (Jeremy Labrie & Elle Matarazzo)–try to be candidly open and honest with each other, expressing their anger, frustration, and needs for all to hear and, ideally, witness a step towards healing their relationships. However, when Paul and Jamie begin to enter into their “cocoon of trust” during the session, it devolves into an unanticipated blame game where not just their dirty laundry is exposed, but others’ as well, leading to total disarray.

Next, my Mind:

It’s the exact kind of scenario and stigma so many people likely picture in their minds when considering the notion of couples counseling–what is supposed to help gets relinquished to utter chaos and potentially more harm than good. While hoping that really isn’t the case in real life, it’s assuredly what transpires in this 10-minute short film from director/co-writer/co-producer Steve Blackwood. A satirical mockery of the concept, Blackwood’s film sails along with biting humor and equally hilarious wit as the viewer is treated to a full-on breakdown of one doctor’s session where it begins well and ends in disaster. Smoothly shot and accompanied by a perfectly fitting background music score, it definitely illustrates how some people’s airing of grievances for freedom and release only dredges up hidden thoughts about others to not-so-good effect. Additionally, the finale presented here is a riot given how things appear at first.

In this reviewer’s experience, ensemble casts can either work great or cause too much convolution in the narrative. Fortunately here, it works excellently. Smith plays Dr. Talbert with intentionally overacted glee, giving us a counselor who really isn’t qualified to even be doing what she is, hence the forced jargon and encouragement she puts forth the whole time that never quite seems sincere or professional. Smith hams it up throughout and is a hoot to watch. As the four couples involved in the insanity being initiated, Paul, Kilgallen, Haley, Mercer, Balakovich, Monte, Labrie, and Matarazzo totally shine as a group, with each pair readily confronting each other with the initial exception of Labrie and Matarazzo’s Paul and Jamie, whose reluctance to dive into the proceedings becomes the ultimate catalyst for things to blow apart. This, in turn, really leads to the scathingly hysterical punch line to events. The actors all meld together extremely well here.

In total, “I Feel” is able to poke some serious fun at the world of couple’s therapy with high effectiveness, topping it all off with a wickedly funny and overtly ironic finale sure to satisfy. I have no illusions anyone out there ready for some help will be encouraged to find such a doctor and group to be a part of. After all, as stated earlier, what could possibly go astray–right?

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



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