★★★★★ Directed by: David Esposito Written by: David Esposito Starring: David Esposito, Lauren LaVera, Ryan Crepack Short Film Review by: Chris Olson
Eccentric short comedy Mulk, from filmmaker David Esposito, takes a bizarre day in the life of its central character and shows the audience how it's the little things that...well...infuriate us.
Esposito plays Tom, a man on the edge after his partner Jenny (Lauren LaVera) mispronounces everyone's favourite cow juice as Mulk. And not just once, she keeps saying it as if it's the proper way and has been for centuries, even as I type this I feel the same fury which overwhelmed Tom. IT'S MILK…
Anyway, things go from bad to worse when Tom agrees to pop off to the mulk store and finds some stranger (Ryan Crepack) standing on his doorway checking his emails on his phone. No rhyme or reason for choosing that particular spot just steps from Tom’s home, this completely befuddles our protagonist only for it to worsen when Jenny seems totally unbothered by it.
Rarely does a short comedy evoke so many actual laughs out loud from this jaded film critic. This is brilliantly funny writing delivered by a superb cast. The comedy beats are intelligently placed to keep a consistent tempo and the increasingly weird behaviour of the supporting characters is sublime to watch.
Esposito delivers a strong turn in front of the camera (always a worry when a filmmaker chooses to write, direct, and star) capitalising well on the frenetic energy buildup of his character's burning rage. LaVera is excellent as the lackadaisical layabout, stirring Tom’s temper with a wonderful nonchalance. My favourite scenes, though, were between Esposito and Crepack, reminiscent of a Larry David encounter in Curb Your Enthusiasm. Spectacular. Crepack (who teamed up with Esposito on a previous short called Fatal Premonition), is very funny as the oblivious stranger with no boundaries.
There were a few moments of nice cinematic flair too, such as a quick pan to the guy in the bushes (you'll understand when you watch Mulk) and the quick cuts during Tom's antagonized exchange with Jenny in the opening sequence. This editing style is perfectly suited to the tone of the short.
Major criticism can only be found in the fact that Mulk is too damn short. Its...ahem...shelf life needs to be much extended to see if Esposito has what it takes to make a feature length comedy - arguably the most formidable of filmmaking challenges. As it is, though, this stands as a resounding triumph and could well be on the list of best comedy shorts of the year.