Directed by: #MatthewTibbenham
Written by: #SinittaMonero
The Morning After Etiquette is a light and breezy short film all about the pitfalls of the modern dating scene. In a cinematic universe clearly influenced by the likes of Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Fleabag, albeit without the emotional gravity that made the latter such a quantum leap, director Matthew Tibbenham’s movie pleasantly floats along atop a stream of easy jazz and witty dialogue. The result is a sugary kind of satisfaction – enjoyable yet insubstantial, which is perfectly appropriate given the subject matter: one-night stands.
Newly single Rebecca (Jess Collett) finds herself suddenly in the dire straits of the casual dating scene. With the albatross of her prior relationship still hanging around her neck, she and friend Rachel (Natalie Ann Boyd) arrive at a house party and discuss the difficulty of getting back in the game of love. After a couple of embarrassing attempts at flirtation, Rebecca heads out for some fresh air and a smoke. Outside, she meets Anthony (Christien Bart-Gittens) who she just seems to ‘click’ with. It isn’t long before they both decide to ditch the party for some alone time, but is this just another fly-by-night conquest or destined to be something more?
As with most stories in a similar vein, it’s absolutely crucial that the audience immediately warms to the main character as soon as possible; without a likeable actor in the role, it’s often very difficult for the audience to get swept up in the on-screen fun. Fortunately for The Morning After, Jess Collett and writer Sinitta Monero come together very agreeably in the character of Rebecca. She’s charming, beautiful and confident, yet with the subtle tension that she’s not quite as slick as she’d like to think: there’s plenty of 4th wall breaking monologues along the way, yet the self-assured ‘advice’ given to the audience usually withers the instant it is put into practice. It’s a clever and self-aware twist that keeps things fresh and prevents every encounter feeling monotonous or predictable. The only point where the writing flounders is right at the end, where Rebecca makes a controversial decision and then does a 180 within seconds. Whether this comes down to bad writing or directing is debatable: it makes the final act seem rushed and could have been remedied by either adding a short scene to account for it or by simply adjusting the scene’s pacing.
In terms of its technical prowess, it’s very difficult to pick any holes in The Morning After. Tibbenham is a director demonstrably in control of the camera and always finds an interesting way to accurately capture the emotion of the moment. The gentle jazz music used throughout is crucial to setting the urbane tone and unfalteringly does so. As a piece about the peregrinations of a young woman in the city, The Morning After works effortlessly. The only thing one can say is that Fleabag broke ground by adding a tragic element to the genre’s comedic equation, something that this movie unequivocally shies away from and opts to keep things firmly on the whimsical end of the spectrum. Some may see this as an atavistic step, but when light entertainment is made to such a high standard, who cares?