The final 2018 offering from Sheikh Shahnawaz is a seven minute playlet called Trick. Leon (James Bryhan) is a loan shark in reflective mode. He sits musing while the kid (Corey Thompson) mixes and cuts a huge plate of cocaine.
He relates the story of a stray cat that he once fed in an act of kindness; inevitably it kept returning in expectation of further treats. The fact that no good deed goes unpunished is a life lesson all too quickly learned by Leon, particularly in his line of business. Such lesson enters play when henchman Yuri (Nisaro Karim) produces customer Jimmy (Ben Thorne). Jimmy owes Leon money but wants more time to pay him back. In a fit of generosity Leon agrees Jimmy can pay him back at the end of the month.
In the meantime, Leon asks Jimmy if he can show him a trick. A child like Jimmy naively agrees and settles down to watch the fun. It’s the old disappearing handkerchief routine. Leon produces the said item and runs through his best Paul Daniels routine. The handkerchief is passed around his audience to check there are no hidden devices. You sense the punchline isn’t far away as the tension methodically builds. Sure enough it arrives in the final frames and Jimmy is reminded of another magician’s trick: misdirection, always keep your eye on the ball, or in this case the handkerchief.
As usual, Shahnawaz keeps a tight rein on the plotline and delivers the film’s message with economy and clarity. Having said that the film’s brevity is frustrating, and I certainly feel Leon as a character can be developed further. This movie review is longer than the script and I almost wish it was part of a bigger feature, just to see Leon develop in a more expansive storyline. It’s about time this talented director stretched out on a bigger budget.