Directed by Keif Gwinn Starring Christina Halvorsen, Johan Barnard, Mark Lynch Short Film Review by Kirsty Asher
Tricky Business is a neat, smart short film made for the 100 Hour Film Race – a competition which challenges entrants to create a short film in a particular period of time, in this case 100 hours, with a winner being chosen at the end. It seems to capture the essence of the competition in its composition. To save time on storytelling, the director and writer team Keif Gwinn and Ronan Steyn have inserted great visual cues to hurry the story along to the amusing climax.
Mara (Christina Halvorsen) and Luca (Johan Barnard) are getting ready for a night out at a masked ball. Mara then goes to her room, snorts some questionable powder and starts impatiently checking her phone. Meanwhile, a man named John (Mark Lynch) has just turned up at their apartment door with a bunch of flowers and what looks like an advert for an escort service. Team this with Mara’s sexy costume party suspender stockings and we’re starting to get the picture of where this might be going. Except it then turns to a farcical misunderstanding, a comedy of errors that is punctuated in a post-credits shot of Mara’s dealer turning up hours later.
For a film that was not only shot and edited in roughly 4 days, the cast of which had never acted on screen before, Tricky Business is a worthy piece of comedy filmmaking. With moments of handheld POV shots that are reminiscent of the awkward hilarity of Peep Show and indeed Lynch as John cuts a very Mark Corrigan-esque figure as he waits with Luca in the sitting room while Mara goes to count her money.
The editing is crisp for the most part, and images such as John placidly sipping milk from a wine glass with a straw (“She only has milk.”) are the kind of great kooky low-key comedy moments you might find in a Taika Waititi film. The writing manages to create a conversation of double entendres between the two men that remain witty and don’t fall too far into obvious innuendo. Perhaps it is the relaxed realism of the set-up that allows for the performers to be convincing in delivery and interaction. The presence and timing of all three performers were equally strong, although Lynch’s calm, quaint middle-class demeanour is arguably the most watchable. The personalities of all three characters came through clearly in the screenplay and in their performances which is again impressive for a film on such a tight schedule.
The revelation of the mix-up is the one part that jars slightly, and I’m still trying to decide if Lynch’s accidental eye contact with the camera while getting chucked out the apartment is comic genius or an unchecked error, or both. But Tricky Business was an impressive, snappy short and good for a chuckle.