Directed by Charline Odiot
Written by Charline Odiot & Michael Sibay
Starring Jessica Graham & Ross Crain
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
A frank and daring short film about the subtle manipulation which occurs during relationships of a certain level of intimacy, The Temptation Game, from director Charline Odiot, is as candid as it is thought provoking.
Set entirely within the apartment of a couple, the man and woman sit half naked playfully chatting. The topic for discussion centres around whether the husband (Ross Crain) is a slave to his natural desires and urges, which his wife (Jessica Graham) teasingly attempts to evoke using an array of techniques. What starts as harmless fun becomes increasingly laden with poignancy, as the couple turn the competition into a sexual conflict.
What is particularly striking about Odiot's short film is the subtlety which it is able to employ. Blink and you could miss a fantastic nuance, either through the flirty dialogue or the impressive performances. The roving camera angles and mixture of close up shots with distant angles is a telling combination, revealing the push and pull that these characters are engaging with - both physically and emotionally. All this battling is absorbed by the familiarity of the mise en scène, using plain white underwear as costumes for example, so much so that audiences will be incapable of not relating to it and engaging with the subject matter.
The jaunty intro and outro music from sound designers Vincent Tennant & Eric Paulsen is another example of where The Temptation Game uses subtlety to lure the viewer in without them realising the high stakes of the story unfolding. By giving the audience the sense that this is a comedy, something to be taken all in fun, we leave ourselves more vulnerable to the film's darker inner core. There is a complex struggle going on between these two characters with dire implications.
Both performers are great throughout, with Ross Crain delivering a fantastic portrayal of a man attempting to maintain his self control whilst delicately balancing the feelings of his spouse. Jessica Graham is quite simply superb as the unbalanced trickster, dealing with such a huge range of different motives and emotions is was reminiscent of the Kathy Bates character in Misery! However, her character deals with a degree of self doubt and anxiety about her own ability to completely satisfy her partner, which mutates during the story incredibly well.
An excellent short film with powerful performances and a distressing yet compelling study of the nature of sexual intimacy.