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average rating is 4 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

Dec 20, 2022

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Celine Cotran
Written by:
Alannah Lewis
Laura Carmichael, Amit Shah, Sarah Kameela Impey, Karl Theobald

The dangers of leaving your mouth open while sleeping are numerous and well-documented. Those with siblings will likely know the great danger of waking up to the disgusting taste of a wet sock in the mouth, those without can at the very least relate to waking up in a pile of drool having spent the night blissfully snoring to the annoyance of all those within earshot. One of the most well-known, though also one of the most uncommon, dangers of sleeping with your mouth open is insects, especially arachnids, accidentally finding their way into your mouth.


Joy (Laura Carmichael of ‘Downton Abbey’ fame) is unlucky enough to suffer this fate in ‘Legs’, a short film which doesn’t lack confidence in the slightest. Joy is a young woman in her late 20s/early 30s, surrounded by friends and coworkers - specifically Amanda (Sarah Kameela Impey) - who are maturing into the next stage of their lives - motherhood. Joy, meanwhile, is sexually frustrated by her manga-reading partner Harry (Amit Shah), and although they clearly love each other, they’ve lost the spark in their relationship.


Late one night, after Harry declined Joy’s advances, a spider has the misfortune of falling into Joy’s agape mouth as she dreamed her troubles away. Joy wakes feeling a little bit off, and is whisked away to the doctors by Amanda later in the day. The doctor (Karl Theobald) reassures her that the spider will pass out of her system quickly, though Joy seems determined to keep hold of it, and leaves the doctor’s office telling Amanda and Harry that she’s pregnant.


This is where our sympathies for Joy start to waver - as she gaslights those around her into believing this lie, only to surely break their hearts when after nine months no baby will materialise. This is the film's only significant flaw, which it even recognises as ‘I’ve got you under my skin’ slyly plays in the background as Joy and Harry, beside himself with excitement, make early preparations for the fantasised new arrival. Though our sympathies may start to waver for Joy, we can at least understand why she began the lie, as the problems of her and Harry’s relationship are swept under the rug and they rediscover their spark.


It’s a pretty clever conceit concocted by writer Alannah Lewis, whose script is light enough to realise the humour of the situation whilst never afraid to recognise the reality of Joy’s life, as she feels left behind by her friends and unloved by her partner, leaving her with no choice in her mind other than to take on the lie. Though the lie may not be as serious as the much-fabled death of Mr Pamuk in ‘Downton Abbey’, it nonetheless affects those who are unaware - most significantly Harry. ‘Legs’ kind of sweeps the lie under the rug, much like Lady Mary in ‘Downton’, and as we never get to see the negative repercussions of her actions, we aren’t blessed with sympathies to go alongside our understanding.


Although competent throughout both director Celine Cotran and cinematographer Mark Kuczewski are at their best towards the conclusion of the film as they capture the abstract scene of Joy having spewed webs everywhere. Quite literally caught in a web of her own lies, Cotran and Kuczewski depict this metaphor with poise, allowing it to take a backseat as Harry enters the frame. Cotran in particular excels at demonstrating Joy’s isolation throughout the film, sticking to the tried and trusted method of zooming in on the pained expression of Laura Carmichael’s face, which, in such a subtlety excellent performance, never feels like beating a dead horse.


‘Legs’ shows the negative outcome of accidentally swallowing a spider - the positive involves becoming some version of ‘Spider-Man’ - and its wonderful conceit is gleefully used to mirror the state of mind many feel as those around them begin the next stage of maturity. As far as web-spewing characters in films which deftly manage to toe the line between humour and drama go, Joy may not be the number one, or even number two, but she most certainly deserves a place amongst such illustrious company in that niche collection.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film
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