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A Well Respected Man short film review


Directed by: #RickeyBirdJr

Written by: #RickeyBirdJr


The futility, frustration and pointlessness of the corporate world have provided movies and TV with ample ammunition for drama, comedy, and everything in between. From Falling Down and Office Space, to both US and UK versions of The Office, any movie that looks to take down the modern workplace has some high-quality and innovative competition. A Well Respected Man tries to replicate the commentary of these greats and adds an apocalyptic premise, but it never really manages to find its voice.

Jim Padgett (Thomas Brill) has finally managed to climb the corporate ladder in his company, and is rewarded with a promotion to vice-president. It’s just his luck that his big day is interrupted by news reports of a passing asteroid which some believe will hit the Earth. Jim is sceptical, but his boss (Thomas Haley) and colleagues take the day to avoid any craziness. With his moment of glory ruined, Jim’s long-repressed frustrations finally boil over.

It’s clear the main message of A Well Respected Man is that a life spent obsessing over workplace politics and corporate pole-climbing is a life wasted, and time with family and friends is what really matters. Yet a disjointed plot and confusing presentation prevents the short from reaching its full potential. The message and themes are hardly unique, and the film tries to stand-out with its ‘end of the world’ setting. However it never really manages to convince viewers of the key developments that occur within its world. The uncertainty around whether the asteroids will strike the Earth is an important element in the plot – explaining why Jim attends work on the day and others do not. But audiences will be left wondering how a world-threatening disaster can be so close yet there can still be such uncertainty around the events. Similarly, the key development of a gun in Jim’s drawer is inexplicable and random – and seems there only to serve a plot twist given what we’ve learnt until that point about the by-the-book corporate drone.

The acting in the film is another issue that takes away from the experience. Thomas Brill’s performance as Jim is not bad, and his scenes with his doting wife Anita (Kelli Maroney) as he gets ready for work are some of the strongest in the film. But when it comes time to snap, his anger feels disconnected from the rest of the performance. This is as much a problem of editing as it is of acting – and it is overly apparent that multiple takes were stitched together. The result is an overly-stagey scene which never feels natural – especially given the stakes at hand during the moment.

The film is hit and miss with it’s use of imagery and thematic devices. Scenes such as Jim’s celebratory cake being trampled, a professor (Rickey Bird Jr) laying out the primary message of the film on TV as Jim watches, and Jim’s wife being met with only his business answer-phone message as she desperately tries to call him are hardly novel ideas, but they end up working quite well on their own. It is the stitching together of these metaphorical scenes where the film falls down. Without a strong plot to guide these scenes, the film ends up feeling like one big collection of metaphors.

A strong enough premise and some nice ideas, A Well Respected Man ends up disappointing with a lack of coherent storytelling or convincing acting. Though the stakes may not be as high, other workplace-movies have already conveyed its message in much more accomplished ways.



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