Directed by: David Moya
Written by: David Moya
Starring: Jason Thorpe, Toby Longworth, Zephryn Taitte
Short Film Review by: Chris Olson
Does white privilege extend to heaven and hell? Would an all-powerful God or gods (or at least their administration) show favouritism to white people when they get to the pearly gates which are guarded by squirrels? And what about reincarnation? Could you choose to come back as someone of a race that has a much easier ride on Earth? All this and more gets explored in the brazen short comedy film White, written and directed by David Moya.
Inside an overworked servant of heaven’s office we see a white guy (Jason Thorpe) in a suit typing away at a computer. So instantly we know he is the one with the power. In comes an overweight middle aged white guy (Toby Longworth) wearing an unbearably bright Hawaiian shirt, clearly representing white privilege, whom we learn is in the process of transitioning, meaning he is dead and now finds out who he will come back as when they plonk him back on Earth. As our dead guy bemoans his fate and turns down the numerous, racially diverse identities that could await him (even Irish is not “white” enough for him), he brings in a fellow dead guy (Zephryn Taitte) who reveals the harsh truth of being black in a White world.
Told with all the levity of a Monty Python sketch, Moya’s film strikes that necessary and elusive balance between outlandish comedy with a straight face brilliantly. The subject matter never falls foul of the offensive boundary and instead remains a cheeky and exuberant piece with just the right amount of pointed social commentary. The denunciation of white privilege is clear whilst poking fun at a whole smorgasbord of cliches and stereotypes.
The tone of White from a filmmaking and mise en scéne perspective was just right. The use of an isolating waiting room, governmental style posters, and darkened office was excellent, as was the framing of each character, which allowed their lines to take centre stage without unnecessary frill. The script was largely a success. There are some howlingly funny bits of dialogue, especially when delivered by Thorpe's oppressed management type. My only issue with the script was the sweary section given to Taitte, which felt less witty and scathing than it could have been. The moronic things that White people have said to him were so funny but they got muddied by his aggressive language. Of course I understand the filmmakers wanted to convey his frustrations after a lifetime of minority abuse, but they robbed him of the audience’s sympathy with so much effity jeffity.
The performances were great. As mentioned, Thorpe is excellent and I could easily have watched more of his daily activities in the transitioning trade. Longworth is very good as the “I'm not racist, but…” type, as was Taitte who does steal the scene during his tirade.
Overall a biting and brutally honest send-up of white privilege and the ridiculousness of how races have emerged to gather varying levels of power and entitlement. As well as a comedic examination of the stereotypes which have been cemented in the popular mindset that determine so much of our opinions and identities. All wrapped up in an ethereal quandary in the afterlife, what else can you want?
Watch the official trailer below.