Written & Directed by: #SaraBulloch
Short Film Review by: #ChrisBuick
Unable to overcome the substantial issues severely damaging their relationship, Charlotte (Macri) convinces her extremely reluctant boyfriend Mark (Nickels) to try a new crowdsourcing tool where they can anonymously post their issues online and get a second opinion from the depths of the internet, only to find themselves dealing with more than just feedback.
Made as part of a college project, 2nd Opinions marks Sara Bulloch’s (writer, director and practically everything else) first short film, and although a little rough around the edges as one might expect with a debut, it firmly showcases Bulloch’s potential as a talented filmmaker right from the off.
A unique and interesting concept, outsourcing your relationship issues to the digital world for consultation is a very contemporary premise that would not look out of place on a Black Mirror idea board. But the pivotal aspect of this film, as has become the case with a number of the writer/directors other works since, is the relationship between our characters, and thankfully this is also where the film is undoubtedly at its strongest and highlights some truly great character writing from Bulloch.
Our investment in Charlotte and Mark’s story is almost immediate, their distinct personalities as well as the currently rocky dynamic are all established with minimal fuss or tedious exposition, not to mention how genuine they feel; both are flawed yes, but ultimately are people you want to root for, meaning our hopes for their success come around pretty swiftly and we are willing to go with them to the very end. However, there are times when 2nd Opinions seems to be trying to do or be too many things at once, with Bulloch’s film seemingly always caught between exploring either its unique premise or Charlotte and Mark’s journey, meaning neither sadly is ever really fully explored as much as we'd perhaps like before the films touching but somewhat abrupt end.
There are some nice filmmaking choices here as well. Having Charlotte and Mark’s feedback delivered straight to camera by a host of uniquely opinionated individuals is a clever touch, nicely avoiding the obvious and would-be boring pitfall of having our characters simply reading it to us, while all the other technical aspects of the 2nd Opinions manage to hit the mark as well.
The performances from both Macri and Nickels are also a big part of the reason why we care about these characters in the first place. There are one or two moments where certain lines of Bulloch’s consistently tight dialogue is let down from a slight lack of conviction in their delivery, but the greater majority of the film is buoyed by two genuine performances from two fine actors fully committed to their parts, Nickels in particular.
2nd Opinions may not delve as deep into its premise or character relationship as it could, but ultimately does deliver a well-rounded, well-written and well-thought-out two-hander well-worth commending.