Directed by Marianna Dean
Written by Mary Jane Lowe
Starring Mary Jane Lowe, Hannah Hoad, Christina Hardy
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
As coping methods go, a cardboard cutout of Academy award-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio is not a bad choice. Such is the premise for comedy short film Leo? directed by Marianna Dean, written by and starring Mary Jane Lowe.
Lowe plays Mary, a thirty-something writer whose life is in turmoil following a tumultuous break-up with her boyfriend, who has left her for the neighbour. On top of this, Mary is spending days in front of her laptop failing to type anything worth keeping, causing additional pressure from her agent. Fortunately for Mary, her helpful friend Britt (Hannah Hoad), has just the solution; the aforementioned likeness of Leo. However, what begins as a quirky idea and novelty pick-me-up, develops into a full-blown case of unhealthy obsession.
Fun and charming throughout, Leo? as a short film props itself up on a solid central performance, excellent emotional touch points and themes, and enjoyable filmmaking that is marvellously enhanced by a brilliant score from Christoph Allerstorfer. The movie had the heartwarming atmosphere of a Richard Curtis comedy, titles which are known for combining a delectable British sense of humour with a strong undercurrent of pathos.
Dean utilises a reduced number of locations well, relying more heavily on the funny and believable dialogue to provide momentum. Her strengths in blocking the scenes prove formidable, as each sequence felt fresh and engaging even though they were made up of largely the same elements. There were some hugely enjoyable montages of Mary drinking red wine and getting generally "closer" to Leo which were well executed. Dean also elicits a wonderful performance from Lowe, who is a terrific presence as the modern lady in distress that was reminiscent of Renée Zellwegger as the iconic Bridget Jones.
There was a nice message to Leo? which highlighted the possibility of triumph emerging from adversity and this was done without ladling misery on the main character. Yes, we empathise with her situation, but the film takes a lighter approach when it comes to wading through her troubles, picking out the more comedic notes of her song of sadness. Such as when she attempts to go cold turkey and puts Leo by the curb, only to instantly regret her decision and wrestle the cardboard cutout from a passerby.
Genuinely funny in all the right places, Dean and Lowe more than make up for the flatness in DiCaprio's performance, with a short film that has a timeless appeal.