Sunday 1 December 2013

Gift Rush (2013)

Director: Eva Marquez
Stars: Alejandro Avalos, Libby Cox and Daniel Gomez
This film was a submission to one of the IFP Phoenix film challenges in 2013. Here's an index to my reviews of 2013 submissions.
The quality of submissions for the IFP Mystery Box challenge was generally high. Even a lesser short like Gift Rush has an overriding sense of fun that can't help but make us smile. It's not a great short by any standard, but it's still a quintessentially enjoyable one, somehow eschewing every detail of reality within a story that plays out in a very real way indeed. It's all about Mike and Cynthia's one year anniversary, which Mike realises on the day that he's forgotten, so he has to scramble to transform abject failure into resounding success before she notices. Applying this at the high school level was a touch of genius, as was the decision to break the laws of physics with ruthless abandon. Either that, or the script is a clever take on the universality of commercial romance, where Mike can apparently acquire the very best that the world has to offer in the five minutes before first class. Maybe he's just thinking in game logic; Mike effectively cries, 'Challenge accepted!' to the romantic challenge within the film challenge. Game on!

It's primarily the story that makes this work so well, because the whole thing is outrageously wrong on every level but somehow rings true nonetheless. It's aided by fast paced editing by Edwin Eliosa and a bouncy, if generic, theme from Daniel Gomez. The fun persists all the way to the twist and the stinger, the brief scene after the credits, which is a neat one. Somehow it manages to survive the acting, which is hardly essential from any of the nine actors. Perhaps it does so through distracting tactics; this runs just under three minutes, including credits, but we're gifted a map to guide us and dialogue in no less than three languages. My OCD may well have shifted me away from the routine actors to wonder about the map. Why does it switch from cities to countries when Mike flits abroad? Nobody knows where Paris is, so we have to go with France? When did South Korea become known for flowers? OCD will tear this film apart, because all the details break it. It's really about feel, and on that front, it made me smile.

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