Directed by Ruth Pickett
Starring Richard Kiess and Maggie Daniels
Short Film Review by Daniel Reason
Learning about the passing of a partner, or loved one, is one of the hardest experiences that anyone could go through, but to then discover that the cause of death is so unbelievably obscure and surreal is another thing entirely. The Mishap is a short film directed by Ruth Pickett that shows Dorothy Pryke, played by Maggie Daniels, reacting to Officer Thomas, played by Richard Kiess, who is in the unfortunate position of informing her that her husband has recently died, but due to the surreal nature of this event, it is a difficult task for him to fully describe what has happened in a thorough and sympathetic manner.
As the story is based around the death of a character, a dark and emotional tone would be expected, but it is very much the opposite. Neither Dorothy Pryke nor Office Thomas can comprehend what has happened, which leads to Dorothy, in particular, being extremely dubious of what she is hearing. There is an effective use of profanity that adds some realistic humour, which makes the reactions and dialogue of both characters believable, despite the strange subject matter. It is clear, that Pickett is aware of the ridiculousness of the plot, and she embraces it by allowing for the editing and dialogue to suit the tone perfectly. There were some instances where the editing felt a little fast, as it would cut to the next shot too suddenly. Despite this, it flows very well and doesn’t slow down. Near to its conclusion, there is a brilliant opportunity to end and cut to black, but it goes on for a little longer, and although this is a small criticism, it would have made for a much more impactful final shot.
Both Richard Keiss and Maggie Daniels are excellent in their respective roles. Keiss delivers a believable and sincere performance of the inexperienced police-officer. It is obvious how much of a challenge it is for him to fully explain the situation while doing his best to not cause any more pain to Dorothy Pyrke. His innocence is demonstrated through his hesitation to describe certain details, and it feels realistic, allowing for added believability in what is being discussed between the pair. Daniels contrasts him very well, resulting in some hilarious reactions and, occasional, instances of doubt. Her first reaction is what is expected but as more is revealed and she learns more and more about her Husband, she is completely unsure of everything and becomes a very unpredictable character, but is one that is easy to relate to and understand.
Where The Mishap succeeds is through its acknowledgement of the ridiculousness within its plot. It’s two contrasting characters complement each other brilliantly, resulting in a unique style of humour that makes this a fun experience.