Directed and Written by #EliezerVergara
Short Film Review by Jack Bottomley
There really is nothing like a good get together with friends is there? A chatty catch up. A nice meal. Some drinks. Really, what could be better? At least that’s the theory, but as we all know life does not follow a theory! Sometimes nothing reveals more about us than such gatherings and in the case of this acclaimed (and rightfully so) short film from writer/director Eliezer Vergara, we see that with friends like these who...well you know the rest. Self Servers uses comedy derived from its awkward social graces (or rather disgraces) to explore the millennial mindset and in the process ask us some very timely questions about who we are, how we act and how well we can possibly know “friends” if we don’t really know ourselves.
The plot is ingeniously simple in its design and very cleverly executed, as couple Jackson (Aaron Badilla) and Emma (Lucia Sawh) plan a dinner get-together at their flat for their mates, as they plan on breaking some huge news to them all. Sadly, best laid plans can’t quite combat a perfect storm of ego, turmoil and simmering emotion.
Vergara does an absolutely splendid job in delivering his story. His direction is contained entirely within the designer walls of the couple’s home (to that end Director of Photography #ChrisUngco nails the aesthetic) and deliciously toys with style. What plays out is an impeccably up-to-date percolation of human jealousy, lifestyles and self importance. Like Carnage, 12 Angry Men and The Party, this film wittily dissects some huge human issues amidst a social group gathering and naturally alcohol flows, points are made and things get heated (and in turn humourous).
With each incoming couple’s arrival, we have an ever stirred melting pot of insecurities, professions and viewpoints and it is really entertaining and enlightening seeing these friends grow increasingly uncomfortable in each others company. As #DylanGlatthorn’s very sophisticated score peppers the beautifully shot antics within the home and the increasing faux pas and snide comments begin to pile up, you relish learning more about the pieces in this ill-fitting jigsaw, as you await the inevitable moment that it all bends out of shape, wondering which comment will be one too many!
This is a real ensemble effort, from the make-up and costume team, to the writers (Vergara and Seán Conlon), to the brilliant acting team. Badilla and Sawh lead the pack as the hosting couple but are joined by an equally diverse array of characters who increasingly come to be a complete clash of ideologies, be it in the work they do, the lives they lead or even what they eat!
It is nigh on impossible to choose a favourite performance, as everyone has a chance to enjoy some sniping moments of dialogue or some withering glance exchanges of their own. Aaron Zapf’s ego-driven Tyler and Mackenzie Lesser-Roy’s social media touting Macy, Sam Ashdown’s wealth flaunting Will and Dana Stern’s health focused Lauren, Kezia Bernard-Nau’s vegan living socially active Kim and Jess Prichard’s on edge Max. These couples compel with their contemporary calamity and the film never misses a step in making a point about how we operate nowadays and how every action or plan comes with an underlying purpose.
Self Servers leaves us with a lot to think about, in fact it’s a bit of a shame it’s not a full feature film, as a lot of the character beats and plot’s depth could have been expanded even more and i could happily have seen such debates been ratcheted up for longer before the finale. Plus it may have helped the ending feel a bit less sudden in its arrival. Overall this is a really entertaining short that serves up some food for thought. Approach your next friends dinner party with caution!