Written & Directed by Chris Murdoch
Starring Deana Heaton, Jean Rogers, Sophie Shad, Danny Thornton
Short Film Review by Chris Olson
Care home comedy in this short from filmmaker Chris Murdoch, who blends honest character arcs with farcical humour to produce a sweet if forgettable piece of cinema.
Julie (Deana Heaton) is our central hero in Valentine's Day, a much put-upon care worker who goes about her daily duties with plenty of gusto. A stark difference, then, to slacker Tracy (Sophie Shad) who spends her time as a care worker avoiding any tasks she can and being rude to the numerous guests. One particular guest called Angie (Jean Rogers) is notably aggrieved by Tracy and with the looming Valentine's Day party that is being thrown in the care home, seeks to exploit the situation to gain vengeance.
Done with a light touch and bouncy dialogue, Murdoch's short film felt like a cross between Phoenix Nights and Derek. Both of which are notably television shows. There is nothing spectacularly cinematic about Valentine's Day as a movie, instead engaging in cheeky characters and swift set pieces.
From a comedy perspective, Murdoch proves himself to be more capable. There is a spiky pace to the piece, allowing the swift execution of the plot points and numerous guffaws to commence. A particular favourite was the introduction of Angie which was scripted brilliantly and superbly performed by Rogers. The performances are by and large decent, Heaton being a strong presence. Danny Thornton, who plays Julie's moronic DJ boyfriend Jim, also gives a fun turn, in particular when he presents Julie with his underwhelming gift for the special romantic holiday.
There was not enough heft to the story, offering up shallow themes which go under developed. Tracy is the antagonist for the bulk of the story, and yes the audience quickly learns that she is quite nasty, but it was not explored in the depth that was needed in order to justify the final third and make it compelling. There was a blurry rush to the finish that was quite unsatisfying. Likewise with Julie and Jim's relationship, it didn't feel convincing which undermined the emotional connection to the film for the viewer. By focusing too much on loose humour and easy gags, the short suffers a severe lack of impact.
Enjoyably throwaway and some decent chuckles, much like Valentine's Day itself this short film will come and go without leaving much of an impression, instead leaving a distinct sense that had a bit more effort been put in more people would have enjoyed it.
Watch the official movie trailer below...