This short takes a very intriguing concept and very likable actors and swirls them into a surreal and enjoyable 15 minute film directed by RI filmmaker Chris Esper.
The script by Rich Camp, based on a story idea by Tom Paolino, follows a young cubicle jockey whose luck is unbelievably good – at the expense of almost anyone standing around him. Depressed by the iniquity of his fortunes, he strives to balance his universe by visiting an establishment that specializes in punishing clients.
The possible wrinkles to the good-luck/bad-luck conundrum are probably endless, and a short can only scratch the surface (sequels, anyone?), but the film establishes the ground rules quickly and effectively. The absurdist sensibility is slyly subversive, and while the threadbare budget is evident, the short also plays with that reality (the signage for the “Punish Me Palace” is hand-drawn sharpie-on-cardboard). Leads David Sackal, and the striking Joanna Donofrio are solid, while Lorrie Bacon and Mark Carter adeptly steal scenes with gleefully over-the-top, leather-clad turns.
It’s fun, and what the deeper meaning of the piece is just might lead to conversations longer than the film itself. This effort bodes well for future work by Esper and company.