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Floppy Toast with Drippy Butter Short Film Review

Updated: Jun 13, 2021

★★★★

Directed by: #PaulStainthorpe

 

One has to be very careful with a social-realist drama. Go too far in one direction, and you’ll end up with films devoid of nuance, like those that are played in a PSHE GCSE class, and direct children exactly what to abstain lest they be cursed. On the other hand, the other unfortunate direction is forgotten Oscar bait à la 2018’s Beautiful Boy, which has slipped from the memory of even those who saw it. A nuanced performance and tight script are enough to save a promising film from either of these two fates, and Floppy Toast with Drippy Butter is positively delicious.


Initially, it seems as though this short will go down the school-film route, but it thankfully swerves this destiny. We follow Chloe (Ellie Bindman), who is sixteen years old. She’s recently moved to a new area to live with her mum and her granddad. As the new kid, she’s been bullied by a pack of girls whose taunting, abusive behaviour fills them with glee. Chloe’s phone buzzes with spiteful messages from the ring leader, and she’s roughed up and cornered at school. Finally, it has all become too much, and she lingers by a bridge, like George Bailey in Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life and contemplates ending it all.


This premise is nothing new – as the comparison to the iconic Christmas movie suggests - but Ellie Bindman’s portrayal of a desperate young girl is extraordinary. Bindman brings such warmth to Chloe that in the short sixteen minutes, the viewer does not just know Chloe as a character but as a younger sister who we crave to protect. Alice (Rhiannon Jones), who features as Chloe’s guardian angel, albeit in human form, is an empathetic character who feels truly drawn from life. Although she is there to guide Chloe towards a brighter future, her actions are never stereotyped as a kindly maternal angel figure.


Floppy Toast with Drippy Butter occasionally threatens to fall into uplifting melodrama, where everything seems to be a grand metaphor for a positive way to think about life. However, these moments of over-cooked warmth are so well-balanced with the script and the nuanced performances from Bindman and Jones that the story feels neither too fake nor too gung-ho. Although the film ends neatly, with Chloe’s worst days behind her, there’s no hint that the ending wasn’t the result of trying to sweeten up the reality.


Paul Stainthorpe’s short expertly avoids the potential potholes that it could easily fall into. Instead, the audience is left thinking about the gravity of their own personal actions. In the end, it reminds you that whatever plagues you, there is always another day just around the corner with floppy toast and drippy butter.

 


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