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Breakdown Short Film Review


Directed by: Dominic O’Riordan

Written by: Sy Thomas, Oliver Britten

Starring: Sy Thomas, Oliver Britten


In Breakdown, Dominic O’Riordan does something unbelievable. He changes the gear from comedy to exasperation to conviviality to comedy again like a professional. There are times when all these things sit together like multiple passengers seated inside a vehicle (this is the unbelievable part). You experience all of it at once, and I was surprised to see how the director managed to contain all this without leaning heavily on one feeling or aspect. If this is a tightrope, then O’Riordan walks on it with confidence.

When a man’s (Sy Thomas) car breaks down, little does he know that this is no temporary hurdle. This is a punishment. He calls a mechanic (Oliver Britten) to fix his problem. Soon he realizes this mechanic is a bigger problem. He takes out a hammer, hits on the engine, and then asks if he had done more damage than before. How did he enter this profession is a mystery left unsolved. Only a tow truck can now rescue the motorist from this complication. The mechanic decides to stay with the man until the help reaches.

How sweet, right? The man wishes for something better as this mechanic is, well, different. He behaves like a child trapped in the body of an adult. When the man tries to open up about how he had to take care of his unwell mother, the mechanic starts to play piano on his phone. Despite the tomfoolery, Britten remains careful so as to not turn the mechanic into a complete idiot. His physical antics come off as natural. This is what he is like, and he is not consciously trying to act as a comedian.

When these two talk, you notice how lonely they are. The words keep flowing out of them like an uncontrollable flood. The man gets irritated by the mechanic, but he never shouts at him or tells him to shut up. They take turns talking to each other. So if one speaks, the other listens (or not). Whatever be the case, their chats don’t reach a conclusion. They are stopped in the middle. Breakdown winks at it by referring to the wood pigeon (the mechanic imitates the wood pigeon and throws in a trivia).

Breakdown opens with the yearning lyrics of Out On The Plains. I cannot place my finger on it, but there is something magical about this song that just changes the way you look at this film. When it’s over, you are left with a strange sensation. It’s not the comedy but the pain of these characters that stayed with me. You get a feeling that they are not the most welcomed individuals. No best friends are waiting for their phone calls. When I think about Breakdown, I think of images like that of a lonely sky, a lonely tower, and then there are these two characters who are close but never manage to get intimate with each other. I don’t want to paint Breakdown as an emotional melodrama. The film has humor, all right. Maybe it’s my mood that gravitated me towards the sadness. Or maybe this is what I could grab from this short. Whatever be the reason, do check it out as it's freely available on YouTube. 14 minutes won’t do you any harm.



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