Directed by Forrest McCuller Starring Robert Kivlens, Nick Martin, Ellen Turrietta, Short Film Review by Andy McZomb
Coffee opens with a noir setting, housing a bored barista contemplating intense inner thoughts concerning atheism and religion. His attempts to develop his ideas are repeatedly thwarted by unaware, uninterested customers until he eventually has his inspiration drained altogether.
The decision to craft the backdrop for this moment of wisdom out of a paper bag shows the determination he has to express his ideas and the importance they have to him. These thoughts are much too important to simply be jotted down on a piece of paper; they need the high esteem that comes from manufacturing your own writing canvas.
Robert Kivlens takes on his role as the human coffee cup effortlessly. Coffee has one function, to be consumed. Here lies the metaphor that Robert encapsulates. He pours the coffee and is seen to be incapable and certainly not required to do anything else, all the while desperately craving the sweet nourishment of fulfilling his purpose.
McCuller utilises a self-indulgent customer relentlessly performing her hypothesis, as a way of showcasing everything the discontented barista wants to be. He wants to openly converse with this woman but she offers no opportunity for reply. The final customer even wears earmuffs to ensure she blocks out any potential moment of discussion with this “idiot”.
The poignant internal monologue is a constant harmonising noise throughout every disrupting latte poured. In the closing scene a symbolic blank page accompanied by lack of voiceover that is as noticeable as a rave that has lost a power supply, shows how we can all so easily let life’s distractions completely silence our inspirations.
Even the background music adds magnificently to the idea of distraction. Peter Brötzmann’s fearless ‘Machine Gun’ uses free jazz to compliment everything Coffee is endeavouring to convey. Just as the barista’s thoughts are penetrated by the clangs and smashes from the metallic coffee apparatus, your opinion on this short is also interrupted by Brötzmann’s jarring, irregular brass.
The real beauty in Coffee comes from the seamless, unapologetic affinity it serves the audience. From top shelf occupations down to the grain stained floors, we all wish we could be more focused and driven to carry out those ideas we only ever tell ourselves.
Whether you pity or empathise with this unappreciated coffee cup crusader, it leaves many areas open to discussion. Is he undiscovered or just lazy? Are the customers ignorant or simply too absorbed in their own goals? Love it or hate it, Coffee may just keep you up all night.