Directed by Ruth Pickett Starring Nana Amoo-Gottfried, Ruth Pickett, Abi Roberts, Jay Byrd, Emily Head Short Film Review by Annie Vincent
Ruth Pickett has written and directed a smirk-worthy short which teeters in that marvelously satisfying area between comedy and tragedy.
One Under introduces us to David, an aspiring composer going nowhere, who lives with his Nan and works at a café in a small Derbyshire village. Today is his birthday and a tramp steals the pink bike he’s riding, his girlfriend stands outside the café snogging someone else and he must spend the day working in a frilly apron and head-dress because he’s forgotten his uniform. But, as he wipes bird poo from an outside bench, an opportunity to play the hero arises when a woman appears to be in distress on the station platform – perhaps the day will improve after all …
Pickett has played with stereotypes, political correctness and contrast in her script to create a charming narrative and everything has been well planned, from the signs in the café reading ‘we do not care about your nut allergy’ to the teeth kissing Jamaican grandmother who can’t believe her ‘rude boy’ grandson would steal her ‘blood-claat bicycle’. Pickett’s scripting is tragically comic producing some great moments when the audience really want to laugh, but don’t know if they should. When Kel, the woman David tries to rescue, tells David she lives with her Nan who has ‘gone a bit batty’ and thinks she is ‘Fagin from Oliver Twist, coming to pinch the silver’ the audience laughs, thinking of their own elderly relatives who are at various stages of dementia, before seeing the tragedy in David’s reminder that life is ‘shit … and then you die’.
One Under has an interesting soundtrack too. The opening credits roll against a slow rap track with a heavy base, but the first shot is of David riding a pink bicycle under a stone bridge, followed closely by his Nan in her mobility scooter. Later, classical music is employed to heighten David’s heroics, before he’s sharply brought back down to reality, and again this clever use of contrast all adds to the humour of the film.
What the audience really need with this film though, is more. In ten minutes Pickett has created a loveable protagonist in David (who doesn’t like an underdog?) and a small community of mad, bad or just outright rude characters to follow, but we don’t get to follow them far. One Under will have audiences laughing, then smacking themselves for laughing, and finally pleading for a sequel.