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Small Town Movie short film review


Directed by: Jarret Liotta

Written by: Jarret Liotta

Starring: Frank Muni, Josh Hyman, Nya Sanaa

Short Film Review by: Chris Olson


Nya Sanaa in Small Town Movie
Nya Sanaa in Small Town Movie

Small Town Movie Review

Filmmaker Jarret Liotta’s short film Small Town Movie deals with some rather large topics. From racism and gun control, to cancel culture and protesting, the movie aims to take a satirical look at some of the hottest topics in the U.S, presenting the often moronic, Twitter-comments-style dialogue from characters all over the political spectrum in order to create a cacophony of chaos and anxiety.

One of the central characters is a local teacher called Elliott LeBlanc (Josh Hyman), who seems to be the most affected by the swirling conversations and situations he overhears or witnesses. He is there when anti-liberal patrons in a cafe are spewing “What about white people?!” and “What would you do if a black guy…” and this seems to get him on edge enough to purchase a gun. He’s made to really care about his PP (Pistol Permit), in a running gag that’s as funny in this review as it is in the film. He sees his class jeering about the idea he’s a slavemaster and seems confused when they make “whipping” jokes. This last aspect affects a black student called Zeena (Nya Sanaa), who is enraged by her teacher’s lack of control over the class and decides to organise a protest - where the culmination of Elliott’s confusion takes place with tragic consequences.

As with the global arguing on social media platforms, there is no search for truth or a peaceful conclusion here. Small Town Movie knows it has no chance of reconciling the varying opinions it is ridiculing and instead pokes fun in all directions, as well it should. The jokes don't land sadly, largely because the characters are so unlikable and the script resorts to gags like the aforementioned PP, or having a cafe customer describe Dutch people as being “grey” numerous times. The short film is successful in showcasing the confusion around the various topics up for discussion, such as diversity and inclusion, or police brutality and police protection.

One scene was particularly well shot, where Mr LeBlanc goes to buy his gun in a montage with a Country song playing over the film. It has the simple terror of how easily and mundane it seems for a person who has been whipped up by scaremongering to go and purchase a lethal weapon. During the protest, Sanaa does make an impassioned speech about the situation and even states the line “Your jokes are not funny…your words hurt people” - which seems to hit home harder than the filmmaker may have intended.

With never a day without a firestorm of controversy, social media and the global faecal fight that rages on have shown us that we won’t reach a satisfying compromise any time soon. This painful and exhausting fact seems no less painful or exhausting when showcased in a short film format like this. Whilst Liotta and co certainly deserve credit for wanting to make fun of the alarmingly baffling opinions people have about these serious topics - whether right or left - all the film ends up doing is regurgitating the opinions without enough stress on the satire.

Watch the official Small Town Movie trailer below:



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