Nov 18, 2023
Danny Zuhlke, Ben Rosenthal, Sue Shaheen, Luisa Lee, Yurel Echezaretta
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A birthday celebration inside a party bus turns dramatic for two friends.
It is Hal's (Zuhlke) 27th birthday and to mark the occassion, he has hired a party bus and has invited his friend Tim (Rosenthal) along. So it is a nice, sunny day and Tim arrives at the parked bus, where Hal is waiting for him inside the bus. It is just the two of them for now and they have a drink and catch up. Then things get busier and more complicated with the arrival of two strippers and go even further when suddenly a large number of guests fills the bus.
Although the narrative of this short comedy drama film revolves around a birthday party, it is not all happy jolly and not without dramatic moments. Initially, things go OK with the two friends chatting by themselves, although Tim appears uncomfortable due to Hal's erratic behaviour and he gets even less relaxed when the strippers join them, one of which is male. The encounter does not evolve in a fun way, with Hal unwillingly offending the exotic dancers and when the party crowd arrives later, Tim is outraged by Hal's hard partying and willingness to be surrounded by strangers who do not care about him. The plot is basically a celebration going downhill, paying particular attention to Hal's awkward and inconsiderate actions.
What themes are explored here? Friendship is a main subject and so is self-reflection. The film is meant to raise awareness of mental health and substance addiction, the latter being evident in the character of Hal, who drinks a lot and takes drugs. The dramatic plot twist at the end further supports the idea that the story is about mental health.
The story is told primarily through Tim's perspective and he appears to be in control of himself, quite the opposite to Hal, who is outspoken with an unpredictable behaviour. The screenplay also explores the life of Raine (Shaheen), the bus driver.
The film is separated into chapters and the image trembles at certain parts throughout, a technique that was probably utilised to signify the characters' troubled state of mind. The filmmakers are quite creative with the lighting techniques, which are accompanied by Alyssa Brocato's beautiful cinematography. The soundtrack has a good selection of songs of which Boys Don't Cry by SEB plays during the opening and closing credits and it is rather effective.
This short contains awkward moments, humour, drama, references to famous musicians and it is a commentary about mental health and substance addiction. Zuhlke's performance stands out and so does the plot twist. Overall, it is an intriguing viewing that points out significant issues to be taken under consideration.