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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Chocolate Heart (2014)


Director: Harrison Atkins
Stars: Jonathan Gordon and Allie Gallerani


Index: Weird Wednesdays.

Of all the short films about sexual weirdness that I've covered for this week's Weird Wednesday, this is surely the most conventional, but how conventional can any picture be when it features duelling genital arms? Really, this is a take on sex education and how difficult it is to know what to do when nobody will tell you, a scenario far more common than most would admit and a dangerous one for young folk once they reach the point that their bodies want to do things but their minds don't know what. Hey, did your parents tell you about the birds and the bees? Well, Owen's parents didn't tell him, so he's kind of stuck. Why didn't they tell him? Well, they turned into cats in the first line of narration. Harrison Atkins, writer and director, doesn't have time to explain, so leaps headlong into the realm of surreality and that's why this film works as well as it does. I just wish I could figure out what the chocolate heart of the title was supposed to mean. I think I got the rest of the symbolic references, at least.

The story follows the strange encounters Owen has in a library. He's there to try to figure out this whole sex thing, by consulting the written knowledge of the world, but finds himself hit on by a girl, Mary. While this is the beginning of a whole slew of porn movies, Owen hasn't got far enough to know what to do with the body part that Mary clearly wants to play with and so he runs away. Clearly this is all symbolic, which is fine because it all makes sense so far, right down to the talking toilet, but if there's meaning to the rest of the film, there's meaning to the title too and I can't quite figure that out. With Mary moving in close in slow motion, he's desperate but, as he narrates to us, 'All I can think about is a beating chocolate heart.' Is this supposed to represent the ickiness he figures will arise or the sweetness of first love or...? What's more obvious is the genital handshake that is so neatly set up in his dreams. That's the scene that most will remember from this picture, guaranteed.

I'm not entirely sold on Chocolate Heart but it does have a high weirdness content for a film which wraps itself up in only six minutes and that's something. I've never seen anyone earn a credit as a 'genital arm' before and I do wonder how they shot that scene, because it does seem a little personal. I can't help but wonder about a future in which this could be an actual career, like 'hand model' is today. It would make a heck of a business card to hand out at networking events. Unfortunately Adam Kritzer and Vinnie Cannon, who are respectively Owen's and Mary's genital arms, haven't managed to rack up many more credits as of yet. Maybe they need to diversify their roles. Chocolate Heart is a well made film and much of what it wants to say is valid, but I wonder if its memorable weirdness will stay in the mind quite as long as much lesser material like Eaten Alive! A Tasteful Revenge. The two films are light years apart in quality; this is the professional short that the other isn't, but its neat surreality and symbolism may not be enough.

Chocolate Heart can be watched for free on Vimeo.

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