Directed by Aaron B Koontz
Starring Peggy Schott & Elise Gardner
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Told in fantastic indie style with a certain swagger, Aaron B Koontz's short film, Honor Student, is a fascinating story about the beautiful juxtaposition of life's mundanity and unpredictability.
Peggy Schott plays a middle aged woman going about her tragically unexciting day. The highlights of which include spilling fizzy pop all over her kitchen floor, clocking in to a dead-end job, and arguing with a fast-food outlet about the contents of her burger order. With no dialogue, but a few sweet songs playing over the visuals, it's a short film to immerse yourself in without focusing on the plot. That being said, Koontz may or may not deliver something...shall we say...unexpected by the film's end.
There were several lovely moments in Honor Student, sequences that really captured something truthful and compelling about the way we live our lives. One upward drone shot felt like a breathtaking out of body experience, where, instead of being treated to a near-death collision (like in other movies) the audience is given an innocuous moment of Schott eating a burger in her car - almost as if we are given a sudden perspective on the wasted life unravelling before us. Another great shot was of Schott arguing at the restaurant counter, where the camera looked on from the kitchen area. This had the effect of letting the viewer feel like a humble bystander in someone's dreariest moments, an important tone for what is delivered later.
Schott is excellent in the central role, keeping her movements naturalistic and without any flamboyance which is sometimes the case in movies with no dialogue. The audience is instantly engaged by her character's determined yet directionless outlook on life, but does not engender too much sentiment.
In one scene we see a hanging on the wall with the words: "She wasn't where she had been. She wasn't where she was going...but she was on her way". This is possibly one of the only nods of the head at the film's title, Honor Student. The camera had just panned past Schott on the sofa looking pretty inert, then to some award statues on the dresser. It's up for debate what the true intentions of the storytellers were, but their comments on wasted potential are certainly focused on throughout the run time.
A bold and stylishly filmed social drama with an intensity to the character's flaws and aloofness to her waywardness that is unmistakably entertaining and gripping right to the very end.