Updated: Jun 17, 2022
Directed by: #HarveyPuttock
Written by: #HarveyPuttock
If you ever worry that your life lacks direction, it might be worth checking out Life’s a Show – a quirky short from director/writer Harvey Puttock – which demonstrates that too much direction can be enough to drive someone a bit mad.
Matt (Jon Tarcy) is left rudderless when his upcoming play is cancelled due to lockdown. Realising he misses his work; he pays a director (Dusan Mrden) to literally direct his everyday life. From timing exactly how long he gets to read, to criticising his coffee-making technique, the director runs Matt’s life for him. But this power starts to go to the director’s head, right around the same time Matt realises all this performing is useless without an adoring audience…
Life’s a Show is an inventive short film offering an amusing commentary on the loss of direction felt by so many people as workplaces across the world shut down, as well as how far some are willing to push their need for attention and adoration. Its ideas are interesting, and the mix of traditional filming mixed with Zoom to present its unusual story make it an original and subversive watch.
Matt’s Audience is a key element, and it is their introduction that marks a key shift in the story. The film however fails to really establish why they are introduced. It is never made clear whether it was Matt’s idea or The Director’s. As their presence is key to how Matt’s character develops, it seems an important omission that the filmmakers perhaps should have addressed. Matt’s egomania coming to the fore as he hires a Second Director (Lucy Hilton-Jones) to instruct the audience in how they respond to him is a little mind-boggling initially, but adds to the layers which make the film really stand out.
The film is built around 3 great performances. Viewers live in Matt’s world, and Jon Tarcy’s fantastic performance demonstrates how he quietly becomes more and more desperate for praise and reliant on the approval of others. Dusan Mrden and Lucy Hilton-Jones meanwhile have the difficult task of portraying their characters in a video-conference format. Mrden’s Director is a perfectionist who revels in the chance to run Matt’s life, and nitpick through the slightest of mistakes. Hilton-Jones on the other hand is employed solely to serve Matt’s ego, and passively whips the audience to worship his ‘performance’, regardless of the quality. The excellent character work by both in strange, covid-enforced circumstances is admirable.
The themes of isolation and how this collides with the desire for recognition are well-presented. Harvey Puttock smartly allows us to see Matt’s vulnerable side throughout the film, as he struggles with his play’s cancellation and his growing frustration with the First Director. However, we as viewers are as isolated and surprised as Matt’s audience upon reveal of the Second Director, as his power-play is made off-screen. Omitting certain elements and actions is a clever way to show that as Matt’s reliance on adulation becomes aggravated by his isolation
An imaginative and original short, Life’s a Show overcomes some imperfections to present a thoughtful and funny film that will have real-life audiences pondering its themes long after the show is over.
Watch the entire film below: