21 Nov 2021
Qiyu Zhou, Zita Bai
Jaclyn Bethany, Kelly Hancock, Zita Bai
With bold, shocking portrayals of sexuality, and the trials and tribulations women face in everyday (and not-so-everyday) life, Fun-Sized Trouble is not one for pearl-clutchers. But anyone with a wicked sense of humour will find both hilarity and commentary in its grounded absurdity.
The film is a short anthology of snapshots into 3 women’s lives as they are presented with unwanted and unexpected sexual scenarios. Dine-Infollows a mother (Kelly Hancock) and daughter (Leslie Bessen) being accosted by a homeless flasher. POV involves a couple (Jaclyn Bethany and Shamin Shukkoor) having their voyeuristic exploits exposed. And Mommy involves a young mother (Zita Bai) being publicly humiliated when an affair is exposed.
Fun-Sized Trouble pulls no punches with its stories of how views on female sexuality are imposed in modern society. At times hilarious, at other times disturbing, the three shorts are thematically linked with a biting overtone of frustration from director Qiyu Zhou – and female viewers will surely come away asking a simple question – “Why do we have to put up with this ****?”.
The women in each short take very different approaches to their humiliation. Kelly Hancock’s mother is stubborn and stoic when faced with harassment, in contrast to Jaclyn Bethany’s trench coat-wearing daredevil who confronts her abusers directly – before turning her ire on her partner who shamelessly abandons her. The mistress played by Zita Bai is a mixture of the pair – fighting back against her abusers but also able to withhold her subjugation without missing a step, in order not to alarm her daughter. The director demonstrates that in reality, whatever response the three gave would never really have addressed the root cause of the problem – that being societies views and expectations of women where sex is involved.
The film also addresses underlying factors in order engage with deeper commentary. An upper-class LA glamour mom’s inability to drop her demeanour of superiority – even when presented with a dangerous predator – comes across as tragic as it does respectable. Manipulative behaviour of a partner is covered in POV, which makes the boyfriend’s abandonment even crueller. And cultural differences are at the heart of Mommy – particularly East-Asian views on honour and shame. These intertwining themes (along with an overall disdain for social media/sharing culture) elevate the film and give it a machine gun-like approach to its commentary – with fantastic results.
The ensemble cast give suited performances, though no one really stands out as especially memorable. Kelly Hancock’s visible yet restrained disgust is a highlight, and will leave audiences conflicted on her prior cold nature. Jaclyn Bethany also brings a vulnerability to her character that infers added tragedy to the short in which she stars. Beyond this there is not a great deal of opportunity for a single cast member to really stand out. The message is the clear star of the show.
The film is also imaginatively directed – with Qiyu Zhou showing her ability to innovate with storytelling. A shot focusing solely on the mother in Dine-In really emphasises the woman’s horrific ordeal without trivialising or scandalising matters. The first-person, phone camera filming in POV is another daring choice – though the abandonment of this feels like something of a cop-out. Only Mommy really lacks in this department – and is the least memorable of the shorts because of it.
You sense that Fun-Sized Trouble is a film that could care less of any opinions. Its fiery views are restrained enough to entertain, but at its heart lies a strong political energy that imbues it with heart and drive – to go with its farcical dark humour.